Victorian Biography Reconsidered: A Study of by Juliette Atkinson

By Juliette Atkinson

In 1939, Virginia Woolf referred to as for a extra inclusive kind of biography, which might contain 'the mess ups in addition to the successes, the standard in addition to the illustrious'. She did so partially as a response opposed to Victorian biography, deemed to were overly preoccupied with 'Great Men'. but an important variety of Victorians had already damaged ranks to jot down the lives of humble, unsuccessful, or missed women and men. Victorian Biography Reconsidered seeks to discover and examine this pattern. The publication starts off with an outline of Victorian biography via a mirrored image on how the bagginess of nineteenth-century hero-worship enabled new matters to emerge. Biographies of 'hidden' lives are then scrutinized via chapters at the lives of humble naturalists, failed destinies, minor ladies writers, ignored Romantic poets rescued by way of Victorian biographers, and, eventually, the Dictionary of nationwide Biography. In its end, the booklet in brief discusses how Virginia Woolf absorbed past biographical traits ahead of redirecting the illustration of 'hidden' lives.Victorian Biography Reconsidered argues that, frequently satirically, nineteenth-century biographers appeared the general public sphere with severe wariness. At a time of instability for males of letters, biographers embraced the function of mediators in a fashion that asserted their very own cultural authority. often, they confirmed no interest in vouchsafing immortality for his or her unknown or forgotten matters, yet strove as an alternative to impress among their readers a sense of gratitude for the hidden labour that sustained the kingdom and an appreciation for the writers who had introduced it to their awareness.

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Extra resources for Victorian Biography Reconsidered: A Study of Nineteenth-Century 'Hidden' Lives

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Where Froude had sought to convey pathos and tragedy, the public saw betrayal and indecency. A hint that Carlyle may have been impotent, which Froude asserted Carlyle had claimed to him, broke new boundaries in Victorian standards of privacy. 28 It is important, however, to temper this depiction of an outraged Victorian public. One response to the Froude scandal was a renewal of biographical censorship. Cross’s memoir of his wife George Eliot (1885), written in the wake of the scandal, was as dry, pious, and decent as anyone could wish.

Much of the literature on biography since classical times had been devoted to the genre’s ability to secure immortality for its subjects. 74 It was understood, however, that this applied to men who had already gained fame through their actions. There lurked behind the critics’ scepticism unease with the fact that a genre could be used to create rather than confirm a reputation. It seemed no longer essential to achieve great things to achieve such commemoration, but simply to have stimulated the whim of a biographer.

Another category was professional biography—lives of doctors, lawyers, or scholars who had completed a fine, though not necessarily a great, career. Compiled by fellow-workers, they share many of the same selfcongratulatory and pious qualities of domestic biography. 69 Johnson’s life was deemed ‘worth 65 66 67 68 69 George and Weedon Grossmith, The Diary of a Nobody (London: Penguin, 1999), p. 7. [J. G. ], ‘Autobiography’, Quarterly Review, 35 (January–March 1827), p. 164. [Nicolson], ‘Biography Gone Mad’, p.

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