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Diane Duffy

Diane Duffy was awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester in 2011 on the subject of history, gender and identity in the writings of Anna Eliza Bray (1790–1883). She has presented a number of conference papers on how Bray’s regional romances, set in the south-west of England, might be viewed as instrumental in shaping a sense of English national identity in the form of an English national tale. She is currently working as a researcher at the Elizabeth Gaskell House in Manchester.

Article: Domesticating Antiquarianism

The domestic is fundamental to any analysis of Bray’s work, as by domesticating public history and antiquarianism she was able to negotiate a path between maintaining her position as a proper lady and asserting her credentials as a published author/ historian. Historically, Bray’s writing career began at a time when there had been a shift in the basic epistemological structures of history from state politics to social and affective life, family matters. Moreover, Bray’s own family, father, brother and both her husbands were antiquarians, thus her research was presented as an extension of theirs. Finally, in 1822, Bray relocated from London to Devon, a geographical space on the margins of England, and one rich in history, legend and the traditions of ‘Old England’. Yet for Bray, home was a conflicted term representing both family home and homeland, England, which she saw as under threat of losing its identity to the newly created nation of Great Britain and Ireland. In this paper I examine how, through the microcosm of family and region, Bray set about producing an antiquarian record of the English landscape, customs and traditions: an English National Tale. Continue reading

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