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The Author's EffectsOn Writer's House Museums$
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Nicola J. Watson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198847571

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198847571.001.0001

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Burns’ skull and Keats’ hair

(p.23) 1 Remains
The Author's Effects

Nicola J. Watson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 explores the smallest-scale expression of the writer’s house museum, the reliquary, through investigating the history of affective investment in the remains of the authorial body. The discussion is framed and exemplified by the biographies of Robert Burns’ skull and John Keats’ hair, but also touches upon ways in which the mortal remains of Ariosto, Petrarch, Shakespeare, and Schiller have been imagined and preserved. The chapter discusses the ways in which the mortal likeness of authors was preserved and transmitted by admirers through acquiring authors’ bones, making casts of their skulls, taking life and death masks, and taking, gifting, and displaying authors’ hair.

Keywords:   Francesco Petrarch, Casa Petrarca Arquà, William Shakespeare, Holy Trinity Church Stratford-upon-Avon, Friedrich Schiller, Robert Burns, Burns Birthplace Museum Alloway, John Keats, Keats House Hampstead, Keats-Shelley House Rome

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