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date: 27 September 2021

p. 544. National Biographylocked

p. 544. National Biographylocked

  • Hermione Lee


The hallmarks of Victorian biography, quite unlike the risky narratives of the generation before — were morality and reticence. ‘National Biography’ traces the development in biographical writing through the 19th-century. There was a backlash to the candid biographies of the early 19th-century that reflected the radical political atmosphere of the times. Biography became more humane with many biographies written by a descendant or disciple. There was an emphasis on public achievement and reticence over private affairs. There was also a movement that culminated in the Dictionary of National Biography to records the lives of those thought worthy of memorialization who were not necessarily major figures.

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