1st Edition

Women’s Letters as Life Writing 1840–1885

By Catherine Delafield Copyright 2020
    202 Pages
    by Routledge

    202 Pages
    by Routledge

    Examining letter collections published in the second half of the nineteenth century, Catherine Delafield rereads the life-writing of Frances Burney, Charlotte Brontë, Mary Delany, Catherine Winkworth, Jane Austen and George Eliot, situating these women in their epistolary culture and in relation to one another as exemplary women of the period. She traces the role of their editors in the publishing process and considers how a model of representation in letters emerged from the publication of Burney’s Diary and Letters and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Brontë. Delafield contends that new correspondences emerge between editors/biographers and their biographical subjects, and that the original epistolary pact was remade in collaboration with family memorials in private and with reviewers in public. Women’s Letters as Life Writing addresses issues of survival and choice when an archive passes into family hands, tracing the means by which women’s lives came to be written and rewritten in letters in the nineteenth century.

    Introduction Rereading Letters as Life Writing

    Chapter 1 Women’s Letters Becoming Life Writing

    Chapter 2 The Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay (1842–46): Women’s Life Writing and Family Considerations

    Chapter 3 The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857): Family Considerations and the Written Life

    Chapter 4 Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany (1861–62): The Family Letter Collection

    Chapter 5 Letters and Memorials of Catherine Winkworth (1883 and 1886): A Life in Translation.

    Chapter 6 Letters of Jane Austen (1884): The Family Record

    Chapter 7 George Eliot’s Life (1885): Letters as Life Writing and the Response to Biography

    Chapter 8

    & Appendix Letters as Life Writing: Hidden Lives and Afterlives


    Catherine Delafield is an independent scholar based in Devon. She is the author of Women’s Diaries as Narrative in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (2009) and Serialization and the Novel in Mid-Victorian Magazines (2015). She has also published articles on life writing and serialisation.