Report from Writing Lives Together (University of Leicester, 2015) – Lucy Johnson

By Lucy Johnson

Alfred Tennyson with book, by Julia Margaret Cameron

The 2015 Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography conference was held on the 18th September at the University of Leicester. Organised by Dr Felicity James and Dr Julian North, the day provided fascinating papers and stimulating discussion (along with a fabulous lunch!).

The opening keynote lecture, ‘Adventures of an Unromantic Biographer’, was delivered by Dr Daisy Hay (University of Exeter), in which she discussed the ‘creative potential of life-writing’ for women who have been ‘erased from history’. In this compelling lecture, Hay framed life-writing as an empowering act that can give voice and autonomy to those who might otherwise have been silenced.

The first panel I attended was Women Writing Together, and it was opened by Dr Amy Culley (University of Lincoln). Her paper, titled ‘Ageing, authorship, and female friendship in the life writing of Mary Berry and Joanna Baillie’, examined the life writing of Mary Berry (1763-1852) through the lens of her friendship with Joanna Baillie (1762-1851) during the two writers’ later lives. Culley discussed the processes of supporting each other as older literary women, and provided a fascinating reading of rry’s desire to leave a legacy of sorts …read more