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The Formation of the Victorian Literary Profession


Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107566897

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About the Authors
  • Richard Salmon provides an original account of the formation of the literary profession during the late Romantic and early Victorian periods. Focusing on the representation of authors in narrative and iconographic texts, including novels, biographies, sketches and portrait galleries, Salmon traces the emergence of authorship as a new form of professional identity from the 1820s to the 1850s. Many first-generation Victorian writers, including Carlyle, Dickens, Thackeray, Martineau and Barrett-Browning, contributed to contemporary debates on the 'Dignity of Literature', professional heroism, and the cultural visibility of the 'man of letters'. This study combines a broad mapping of the early Victorian literary field with detailed readings of major texts. The book argues that the key model of professional development within this period is embodied in the narrative form of literary apprenticeship, which inspired such celebrated works as David Copperfield and Aurora Leigh, and that its formative process is the 'disenchantment of the author'.

    • Offers a new approach to understanding the historical development of professional authorship in early Victorian culture
    • Provides detailed readings of literary texts by major and less familiar early Victorian writers, including Carlyle, Dickens and Martineau
    • Focuses on the representation of authors in narrative and iconographic texts, including novels, biographies, sketches and portrait galleries
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A thorough and thought-provoking analysis.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'Salmon's scholarship and theoretical applications are extensive and thoughtfully arrayed. His close intertextual reading of key documents is exemplary and illuminating. The book provides a template for courses on literary periodization and the complicated, vexed, developing construction of a significant profession of mid-Victorian letters.' Robert L. Patten, SHARP News

    'Salmon is good on nuance and at his best when teasing out the mixed messages and anxieties expressed by Victorians about authorship.' Standpoint

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107566897
    • length: 302 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: living authors
    2. Thomas Carlyle and the luminous author
    3. Thackeray and the novel of literary apprenticeship
    4. Dickens and the profession of labour
    5. Broken idols: the development of the working-class author
    6. Moving statues: the iconography of the 'printing woman'
    7. Conclusion: the disenchantment of the author.

  • Author

    Richard Salmon, University of Leeds
    Richard Salmon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where he has taught Victorian and Romantic literature since 1996.

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