‘A journal of my feelings, mind & body’: narratives of ageing in the life writing of Mary Berry (1763-1852)

Culley, Amy (2018) ‘A journal of my feelings, mind & body’: narratives of ageing in the life writing of Mary Berry (1763-1852). Romanticism . ISSN 1354-991x

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Abstract

This article contributes to studies of gender and old age in the Romantic period through an exploration of the life writing of the biographer and historian, Mary Berry (1763-1852). In her manuscript journal, Berry provides a self-conscious and intimate commentary on the experience of ageing, mixing chronological, personal, cultural, and physical definitions. Yet this account of her feelings, mind, and body is radically reshaped for a Victorian readership in the posthumously published work of 1865. Beyond the journal, Berry’s correspondence provides insight into intragenerational sociability through the exchanges of a network of older letter-writers. The theme of ageing also manifests in her biographical works, in which she refuses to treat old age as an epilogue to a life and complements the critical reflections presented in the journal. Read in dialogue, these texts therefore provide valuable perspectives on old age, gender, and sociability and establish age as an important category within studies of life writing.

Keywords:Mary Berry, women’s ageing/old age, Romantic sociability, life writing, letters, biography
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q322 English Literature by author
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V144 Modern History 1800-1899
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:29061
Deposited On:12 Oct 2017 11:21

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