Lucy Hutchinson and the Business of Memoirs



Keeble NH (2022) Lucy Hutchinson and the Business of Memoirs. Review of English Studies.

Until comparatively recently, Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs were read as a personal and private document, and, even though their significance as a primary historical source is now increasingly recognized, it is still generally assumed that they were conceived solely for circulation within her own family. Their true business, however, is with public affairs and posterity. Like the many other late seventeenth-century memoirs, they anticipate a posthumous readership, to whom they present an apologetic, justificatory, and highly partisan, account of the recent past, participating in a literary contest for the master narrative of seventeenth-century history. This argument is pursued through a comparative analysis of the Memoirs and other examples of its curious hybrid genre, part autobiography, part historiography, taking up their compositional and publishing history, their implied readership, and Hutchinson’s binary categorization of historical agents as ‘children of light and of darkness’. Unusually, Hutchinson does not identify these with the Civil War antagonists. The former, embodied in the idealized Christian gentleman John Hutchinson, fail in their ‘just defence of English liberties’ because of those on the Parliamentarian, Puritan, and republican side who betray the Good Old Cause as the Israelites betrayed Moses after their liberation. This is Hutchinson’s witness to posterity.

Literature and Literary Theory; Linguistics and Language; Language and Linguistics

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Review of English Studies

StatusIn Press
Publication date online16/03/2022
Date accepted by journal23/02/2022
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)

People (1)


Professor Neil Keeble
Professor Neil Keeble

Emeritus Professor, English Studies