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Open Access 16. Women, Memory and Family History in Seventeenth-Century England

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16. Women, Memory and Family History in Seventeenth-Century England

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Chapter Summary

Family history highlights instability of the memory/ history boundary. As a private and domestic form of knowledge, focused on family relationships, transmitted orally, and important above all for its immediate resonance and meaning to those alive, family history can helpfully be understood as a memory practice. This chapter discusses family histories by gentry women, which are generically mixed and complicated; but all of them involve some kind of recourse to past, and draw on knowledge of periods and people outside direct experience of the writer. Family history, emerging as a popular interest in Britain in course of sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, drew in a great variety of people. Men and women at many different levels of society were keen to record and transmit their family stories. The chapter explores nature of that personal domain in the writings of three seventeenth-century gentry women Anne Clifford, Lucy Hutchinson, and Anne Fanshawe.

Keywords: Anne Clifford; Anne Fanshawe; Britain; family history; gentry women; Lucy Hutchinson; memory practice



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