London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Daisy Hay, Friday 24 March 2023

The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will take place on Friday 24 March 2023 in Room G4, Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30pm. As our guest speaker, we are delighted to welcome Professor Daisy Hay of the University of Exeter, who will present a paper entitled “Writing a Revolutionary Age in Dinner with Joseph Johnson”. This will be followed by a discussion and a wine reception, to which all are invited. The seminar will be chaired by Rowan Boyson (King’s College London).

The event is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. No booking is required.

Daisy Hay is Associate Professor in English Literature and Life Writing at the University of Exeter and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is the author of Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives (2010), Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance (2015) and, most recently, Dinner with Joseph Johnson: Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age (2022). She is particularly interested in the intersection of public and private lives in the long eighteenth century, and in the practice of life-writing and group biography.

Regarding the subject of her paper, Daisy writes:

“In the final decades of the eighteenth century the bookseller Joseph Johnson gathered around him a constellation of writers and thinkers who, during the period that he was in business, remade the literary world. This paper will track the relationship between contemporary life-writing and the different ways of representing a life on paper that emerged from Johnson’s shop and dinner table. One writer in Johnson’s in-house journal, the Analytical Review, characterised the work of biography as ‘so irksome and laborious, that persons of real abilities, without very extraordinary encouragements, can seldom be prevailed upon to undertake it’: Johnson’s great friend Joseph Priestley, in contrast, thought that the intellectual possibilities inherent in the representation of a life in time and in context were enormous.  This paper will explore the interconnected strands of thinking about biography that took place in Johnson’s house and in the works he published in order to represent some of the creative and methodological challenges inherent in reanimating his world for modern audiences.”