‘I Remember When I Began to Read’: Remembering Childhood Reading
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This chapter focuses on the autobiographical writing of Abraham Cowley (1618–1667), Elizabeth Delaval (c. 1648–1717) and Elizabeth Isham (1608–1654) to analyse the recollection of childhood reading. It considers retrospective representations of childhood reading to evaluate the ways in which images of the child as reader are used to write the self. Arguing that representations of childhood reading fulfil particular functions in early modern textual constructions of the self, it examines how the child as reader is a literary trope in this context. It argues that retrospective representations of childhood reading illuminate the extent to which reading as a child becomes crucial to the construction of selfhood for some early modern writers.