Historiography, Gender and Identity in the Works of Anna Eliza Bray.

  • Diane Duffy

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractDiane Elizabeth Duffy,The University of Manchester, PhD., 2011.Historiography, Gender and Identity in the writings of Anna Eliza BrayThis study addresses the writings of Anna Eliza Bray in three different areas, which illustrate her main literary interests: her autobiographical works, her travel writing and her contribution to the historical romance. I begin with an examination of Bray's autobiography, exploring the ways in which the editorial processes reduced Bray's three volume manuscript to one, and examining how socially constructed gender roles impacted on Bray's construction of her own public image and the image constructed for her by the male members of her family. I also examine how Bray appropriates the language and devices of fiction to idealise the past and as a form of concealment. Finally Chapter One explores Bray's desire to memorialise the past, which includes her own. Chapter Two addresses the development of travel writing after the resumption of continental travel following Waterloo. The changing epistemological conventions in historiography and travel writing provided opportunities for women to publish works on continental journeys and thereby address a real lack of published works by women in that genre. Bray's work comprised a collection of letters to her mother which allowed her to inscribe the publication within a domestic framework and a female discourse of family relations. Within this frame, however, Bray addresses some political issues on revolution, conservation and gender politics, concerns that become central to her romances. In order to establish some of Bray's stylistic strategies I make a detailed textual analysis of her work and that of Helen Maria Williams. The fact that Williams and Bray both wrote about Rouen, but with a very different style and perspective serves to identify aspects of style and ideology that are specific to Bray. The final two chapters focus on Bray's historical romances. I choose to separate these into two sections, the early romances set in France and Flanders during the fourteenth century, and her later regional romances set in Devon and Cornwall. These works fall neatly into two types, those that are largely lifted from Froissart, and those which Bray deems original, that deal specifically with local history and tradition. In Chapter Three I examine how the changing epistemological conventions noted above impacted on Bray as a writer whose subjects are history and antiquarian studies, but I also examine how Bray appropriated her subject matter to suit a personal and political agenda, using the Middle Ages as a model for what she believed would be a more desirable society, a belief that was commensurate with the nineteenth century political belief in paternalism. I also examine how Bray appropriated this period to re-vision and control her own history. As in her travel work Bray inscribes her political comment in a domestic framework of family relations, a model which she develops in her local romances, which I argue in Chapter Four, can be read as examples of an English national tale.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJacqueline Pearson (Supervisor) & Alan Rawes (Supervisor)

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