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Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose 1832–1890$
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Paul Turner

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198122395

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122395.001.0001

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History, Biography, Autobiography

History, Biography, Autobiography

(p.311) 16. History, Biography, Autobiography
Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose 1832–1890

Paul Turner

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores several author’s history, biography, and autobiography. Authors’ lives are apt to be dull, and those who turn author only to tell the story of their lives are unlikely to write well. Against such odds, the period produced a surprising amount of good work in autobiography. However, there were several other notable productions in the genre. Thomas Cochrane (Earl of Dundonald) was defending himself against a charge of complicity in a Stock Exchange swindle of 1814, for which he had been fined, imprisoned, dishonourably discharged from the Navy, deprived of his seat in Parliament, and even sentenced to stand in the pillory. Thomas Henry Huxley had a ‘profound objection’ to writing about himself but, fearing that a volume of ‘biographical sketches’ might otherwise say something ‘all wrong’ about him, he wrote a thirteen-page ‘Autobiography’ for it. His own was fictional to the extent of suppressing two important facts, the difficulty he had in marrying a girl he met in Australia, and the death of their first child at four.

Keywords:   history, biography, autobiography, Thomas Cochrane, Thomas Henry Huxley

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