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Manuscript Fiction in the Age of Print, 1750-1900

This project creates a vocabulary and taxonomy for discussing manuscript fiction in the age of print (1760-1900). Most studies of later eighteenth and nineteenth-century manuscripts concentrate on those that achieve fame by association (the Bronte juvenilia, the Dickinson fascicles, the working manuscripts of various published authors) or those that have value as social documents (friendship books, copybooks, etc.).  

While manuscript fiction difficult to find the archive, it exists, and I collect it.  Some are found in the archive bound and resembling print in sizes ranging from heavy tomes to tiny packets, while some survive only in fragments.  Some resemble print editions closely and include elaborate title pages, while others are barely decipherable without intense deciphering.  Some contain chapters and a clear plot, and some ramble in ways worthy of Smollett or Richardson (or are, indeed, parodies of those famous novelists).  Some are written by those famous in other fields (such as playwright/actor Charles Dibdin or Governor-General of India Warren Hastings), while some linger just on the edges of the historical record.  While a few may have been imagined as future printed books, none of them made that leap.  Most challengingly, none of it appears in obvious ways in any cataloguing system.

  Together, this growing collection provides exciting and illuminating insights into the writing and reading lives of the period.

About: About


Manuscript fiction in English that did not see print during the author's lifetime, with dates of creation between 1750 and 1900. We have identified and collected material from the American Antiquarian Society, Chawton House Library, the National Library of Scotland, the British Library, and the London Metropolitan Archive, with plans to collect more from various libraries, public records offices, and other archives in the United Kingdom and the United States.


We are creating multiple metadata schemas: one in-house rich one, and one RDF schema for submission to 18thConnect and NINES.


Our team is transcribing and encoding these texts into TEI5-compliant XML.

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