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John Forster as biographer: a case study in nineteenth-century biography

Langford, H.; (2011) John Forster as biographer: a case study in nineteenth-century biography. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

John Forster (1812-1876) has traditionally been glimpsed almost exclusively via his relationships with key nineteenth-century figures such as Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens. His biographical works can be seen as a nexus between the often conflicting positions which he occupied as a journalist, editor, literary agent and advisor, barrister, philanthropist, husband and government secretary. Forster’s biographical career is roughly divided into three periods; the early biographies (1830-1864) constituted several historiographies of key figures in the history of the long parliament, concluding in the two-volume Sir John Eliot (1864). The years 1848 to 1875 were occupied with biographies of eighteenth-century poets, novelists and dramatists, in particular Oliver Goldsmith (1848) and Jonathan Swift (1875). In the last decade of his life, Forster was diverted from these two passions by the memoirs of his friends, Walter Savage Landor (1869) and Charles Dickens (1872-4). Arising out of collaborative work with UCL and the Victoria and Albert Museum, this study centres on the National Art Library's Forster bequest. Examining and documenting in detail the materials which Forster collected and exploited to write his biographies, it explores the nature, both physical and intellectual, of Forster's library, and its importance in analysing his research and writing interests. The works are situated within the development of biography as a genre, and alongside the emerging ethos of unrestricted education and the new printing and binding technologies and techniques which were becoming available. The archive’s material elements - images, bindings, annotations, Grangerizations, the ways in which it has been curated and catalogued – form a unique documentation of standard Victorian biographical practices, and of Forster’s individualistic working habits.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:John Forster as biographer: a case study in nineteenth-century biography
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Third party copyright material has been removed from the e-thesis
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Language and Literature

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