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Portrait of A Muse: A biographical novel about the eighteenth century poet, Anna Seward, of Lichfield (England), with an accompanying critical essay: The Grave of the Muse is the Marriage Bed / SUSAN DICKSON

Swansea University Author: SUSAN DICKSON

  • Redacted PhD Thesis. Susan D. Dickson.2022.CC.BY.NC.ND.pdf

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    Portrait of A Muse: A biographical novel about the eighteenth century poet, Anna Seward, of Lichfield (England), with an accompanying critical essay: The Grave of the Muse is the Marriage Bed © 2022 by Susan D. Dickson. The critical essay and the author's own images are licensed under Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivatives 4.0 International. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ NPG.org images are reproduced under CC BY NC ND in accordance with the terms and conditions on their website.

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.60266

Abstract

Introduction - 'What does the life of Anna Seward tell us about factors which influenced female literary success in the patriarchal world of the later eighteenth century?'This is my central research question, investigated through my novel and this accompanying exegesis, where I also consid...

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Published: Swansea 2022
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Lauppe Dunbar, Anne ; Bilton, Alan J.
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa60266
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Abstract: Introduction - 'What does the life of Anna Seward tell us about factors which influenced female literary success in the patriarchal world of the later eighteenth century?'This is my central research question, investigated through my novel and this accompanying exegesis, where I also consider other aspects of the project relevant to both Anna's history and my re-creation of it through biographical fiction.In the first part of the essay, I examine the genesis of my semi-fictional biographical novel, Portrait of a Muse, which samples the life of Anna Seward (1742-1809), an English provincial poet, who became known as ‘The Swan of Lichfield’. I explore issues of methodology and literary contexts, including my novel's relationship to recent historical and biographical fiction, along with stylistic links to early English novels and the Gothic tradition. I elaborate on research findings, characterisation and aspects of social history including portrait-painting and medical matters, along with other elements of my writing journey.The second part of the essay examines in detail Seward’s relationships and her situation as an unmarried woman, relatively independent and able to succeed in her chosen career. Through the medium of Seward’s letters and poems, including her seminal work, the verse-novel Louisa, I investigate her attitudes to romantic love versus 'mercenary' marriage, and I discuss how Louisa reflects much of Anna's own life story. I compare Anna's circumstances to other important female writers of the era. A thesis overview presents the important aspects of my PhD project, and demonstrates how I have contributed not only to the field of knowledge relating to Anna Seward and her contemporaries, but also to wider aspects of social history. I return to my research question with a summary of my findings. Finally, in a brief epilogue, I use a short fictional scenario to compare Seward’s life story with my own situation as a middle-class educated woman in the twenty-first century.
Item Description: Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, the full text biographical novel in this thesis is not available.
Keywords: Biographical novel, Anna Seward, eighteenth century poet, Lichfield (England)
College: College of Arts and Humanities