Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.463748
Title: Critical theories of biography in England, 1800-1831
Author: Lurcock, Arthur Francis Tony
ISNI:       0000 0001 3614 1487
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1978
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Abstract:
An examination, taken from published biographies and periodic reviews, such as the Quarterly, of the emerging consensus of what should be contained in a biography, and how it should be presented. The years 1800 - 1851 mark the period when ideas about biography were first widely discussed. The critical principles are described as they evolved against the background of the huge proliferation of biography which accompanied the "Age of Personality." The past and present were generously documented with biographies long and short, although reviewers grew increasingly hostile to redundant and extended works. The emergence and acceptance of autobiography and literary biography were the most important innovations. The complex task of framing an aesthetic for biography is then described. The major findings are the importance and place given to detail, the rejection of life-and-times and the welcoming of life-and-letters forms of biography. The argument that biographers should incorporate abundant original materials is then detailed, as it affected the use of letters, diaries, autobiography, anecdotes, and conversation. The discrediting of these original materials by over-use is traced. Lastly, two moralistic issues are considered; how a biographer might be truthful and yet conform to powerful demands not to speak unduly ill of the dead or to touch on taboo subjects, and the writing of biography for utilitarian purposes. During the period biography was reviewed extensively for the first time, and reviews and independent assessments provide a large amount of material. Although the findings interestingly reflect the age at many points, nothing like a Romantic theory of biography emerges. Rather, the period established the major areas of biographical discussion, which are little altered 150 years later. The thesis deals also with unfamiliar areas of the work of many of the best known writers of the generation.
Supervisor: Butler, Marilyn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.463748  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Autobiography ; Biography
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