Biography as Myth-Making: Obfuscation and Invention in Victorian and Post-Victorian Literary Biography

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The Victorian period saw the publication of numerous biographies of major writers produced by their surviving spouses, family members, or close friends. The purpose of those biographies was not only to provide a comprehensive account of their subject’s life and work, but also to establish an image of them for posterity - which often involved the need to edit, hide, or otherwise manipulate evidence of aspects of their life which would have been considered unacceptable or embarrassing. In doing so, Victorian literary biographers adopted a number of narrative techniques typical of the fiction of the day, moving from straightforward realistic modes of story-telling to various forms of quasi-Modernist manipulation of the narrative voice. The present chapter traces these developments in the biographies of Charlotte Brontë (by Elizabeth Gaskell), Dickens (by John Forster), George Eliot (by J.W. Cross), and Hardy (nominally by Florence Emily Hardy, but in reality largely by Hardy himself).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Literary Biography
EditorsRichard Bradford
Place of PublicationChichester
PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Chapter28
Pages469-488
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781118896259
ISBN (Print)9781118896297
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameBlackwell Companions to Literature and Culture
PublisherWileyBlackwell

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Keywords

  • biography
  • Victorian
  • manipulation
  • narrative
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Dickens
  • George Eliot
  • hardy

Cite this

Jedrzejewski, J. (2018). Biography as Myth-Making: Obfuscation and Invention in Victorian and Post-Victorian Literary Biography. In R. Bradford (Ed.), A Companion to Literary Biography (pp. 469-488). (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.