To the Ladies of Ogston Hall:the epistolary cultures of Nineteenth-Century gentry women of Derbyshire
AuthorsFlint, Alison Claire
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractThe broad aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that the Victorian letter is more than the sum of its parts. By focusing on the archival collection of a gentry family from Derbyshire, it asserts that the material remains of a nineteenth-century letter are as important as the words and, as such, have a valuable contribution to make to the understanding of letters and letter writing culture of the period. Furthermore, throughout it is demonstrated that the nineteenth-century familial letter was important as an emotional and material object to both the reader and the sender but, as yet, is an undervalued tool in historical research. It argues against the dominant historical trend to read only the text of letters, and in so doing offers a model that can be adopted and adapted to investigate the nineteenth-century letter. The thesis applies James Daybell’s argument that, in order to understand an early modern manuscript, the historian must be directed both to the physical characteristics as well as to the social contexts of its composition, delivery, reception and latterly its archiving. By taking a case study approach, this thesis examines the unpublished nineteenth-century letters of the Turbutt family collection. Each chapter focusses on a particular aspect of letter writing which affords a greater understanding of the nineteenth-century letter as literary culture as well as material culture. Taking this approach uncovers a wide range of uses for the familiar letter and demonstrates that the letter was vital to the nineteenth-century Turbutt women of the Ogston estate. It is demonstrated that the Turbutt women used letters to perform their role as gentry women, to navigate courtship and the emotional and relational divide, and also determine how the letter writer used the material properties to their advantage and, if so, did the material and literary qualities of letters converge to further this. In so doing this thesis bridges the gap between text and materiality, two areas that have tended to be treated separately and, as such, it contributes to the scholarship of letter writing in the nineteenth century as both literary culture and material culture and also to the letter writing culture of nineteenth-century gentry women. Daybell, The Material Letter in Early Modern England, pp. 1-2.
CitationFlint, A. C. (2017) 'To the Ladies of Ogston Hall:the epistolary cultures of Nineteenth-Century gentry women of Derbyshire', PhD thesis, Univesity of Derby.
PublisherUniversity of Derby
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