'Once more she was part of a novel': Dorothy Richardson's doubly autobiographical Pilgrimage

Elliott, Gemma Louise (2018) 'Once more she was part of a novel': Dorothy Richardson's doubly autobiographical Pilgrimage. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines Dorothy Richardson's thirteen-volume novel sequence Pilgrimage (1915-1967) as a doubly autobiographical text. Pilgrimage is widely considered to be a fictionalised retelling of Richardson's own life, and many critics have found little difference between the lives of Dorothy Richardson and her protagonist Miriam Henderson. Following the Künstlerroman tradition, Richardson's novel sequence concerns itself exclusively with the life and coming to adulthood of Miriam Henderson who, like her creator, has an interest in documenting her own life. Thus, as Pilgrimage is the product of Richardson's struggle to find a place within literature, it is Miriam's too.
I begin by foregrounding the theoretical landscape of autobiographical theory to date, focusing on feminist works and noting a historical concentration on male autobiography in critical pieces. In particular, Laura Marcus's Auto/biographical Discourses (1994) and Max Saunders' Self Impression (2010) are used to discuss the uneasy space Pilgrimage occupies as an example of autobiographical fiction, fitting into neither binary genre.
Pilgrimage is then read chronologically, noting Richardson's development as a writer alongside her protagonist's. Miriam is a voracious reader and the progression of her interest in reading is discussed throughout this thesis, finding the influence of a variety of writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ouida, Charlotte Brontë, Henry James and more. The following of this interest in literature is accompanied by a tracking of the narrative innovations Richardson employs in the writing of the Pilgrimage sequence, such as narrative shifts and unusual punctuation formations, which she uses to suggest points in the text in which Miriam can be seen to be telling her life story in the same way that Richardson has.
A case is then made for Pilgrimage as doubly autobiographical, meaning that it is Miriam Henderson writing about herself, by Richardson writing about Henderson as herself. This dual mode of life writing can be traced through the novel sequence, developing in its many narrative innovations, as well as in Miriam's clear interest in both the reading and the writing of literature. Pilgrimage then represents both Dorothy Richardson and Miriam Henderson's attempts to represent their lives in literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Dorothy Richardson, Pilgrimage, autobiography, life writing, women's writing, female autobiography, doubly autobiographical.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Randall, Dr. Bryony and Goldman, Dr. Jane
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Gemma Elliott
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30742
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2018 08:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2018 17:11
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/30742

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