Writing Lives Together

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A diary entry, begun by a wife and finished by a husband; a map of London, its streets bearing the names of forgotten lives; biographies of siblings, and of spouses; a poem which gives life to long-dead voices from the archives. All these feature in this volume as examples of ‘writing lives together’: British life writing which has been collaboratively authored and/or joins together the lives of multiple subjects. The contributions to this book range over published and unpublished material from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries, including biography, auto/biographical memoirs, letters, diaries, sermons, maps and directories. The book closes with essays by contemporary, practising biographers, Daisy Hay and Laurel Brake, who explain their decisions to move away from the single subject in writing the lives of figures from the Romantic and Victorian periods. We conclude with the reflections and work of a contemporary poet, Kathleen Bell, writing on James Watt (1736–1819) and his family, in a ghostly collaboration with the archives. Taken as a whole, the collection offers distinctive new readings of collaboration in theory and practice, reflecting on the many ways in which lives might be written together: across gender boundaries, across time, across genre. This book was originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.

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