CFP: Victorian and Edwardian Lives and Letters

University of Hertfordshire and Knebworth House

July 10-11 2014
January 31, 2014

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor Jane Ridley, University of Buckingham (Bertie: A Life of Edward VII; The Young Disraeli; The Architect and his Wife: a life of Edwin Lutyens).
  • Professor Katharine Cockin, University of Hull (The Collected Letters of Ellen Terry; Women and Theatre in the Age of Suffrage; Edith Craig (1869-1947))

Submissions are invited for this two-day conference to be held at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield and at Knebworth House, the country home of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton (1803-73). The conference will focus broadly on the topic of life-writing in its different manifestations and the challenges posed by Victorian and Edwardian figures from across the literary, theatrical, political and social scenes. How, for example, were Victorian lives recorded by Victorian contemporaries? How did a Victorian subject go about writing an autobiography or memoir? What was/is the relationship between life-writing and creative writing? Given that the fields of biography and autobiography regularly undergo re-evaluation as notions of identity, selfhood and `suitable’ subjects shift, how do those working on nineteenth century topics in the twenty-first century approach them. Where is the field going?

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers for a range of topics. These might include, but are not limited to:

  • Challenges in recovering both well-known and forgotten subjects
  • Celebrity and infamy
  • Working with letters and diaries
  • Creative writing’s use of Victorian and Edwardian lives
  • Shifting reputations
  • The legacies of earlier biographers (e.g. Froude, Strachey)
  • New developments in the field
  • Teaching life-writing


The conference includes a tour of Knebworth and conference dinner at the house. Residential accommodation is at the University of Hertfordshire.
Please email 300 word abstracts or enquiries to the conference organisers, Rowland Hughes, Andrew Maunder and Janice Norwood The closing date for abstracts is January 31, 2014.
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