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Self-Made Men And The Civic: Time, Space And Narrative In Late Nineteenth-Century Autobiography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is based on the autobiographies of businessmen in particular and two of these in closer detail: Samuel Smith and William Forwood. They both threw themselves into public, political life in the nineteenth century, Smith as a Member of Parliament, Forwood as a local politician in Liverpool. Comparing the life writing of Smith and Forwood allows for analysis that can begin to pick out significant similarities and differences which provide insight into the way identities are constructed and communicated through time. Author argues that middle-class men also used time and space in their life writing to consider the dislocations between inheritance and independence, to think about what is innate and what is cultivated. The self-made man was a central narrative in stories of middle-class men but success was also defined in the author's ability to reflect on the nature of self-making for the edification of a wider audience.

Keywords: autobiography; businessmen; narrative; political life; Samuel Smith; self-made men; space; time; William Forwood



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