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Elizabeth Inchbald’s Pocket Diaries

  • Laura EngelEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, I consider excerpts from Elizabeth Inchbald’s pocket diaries from 1781–1820 in order to theorize the significance of the pocket diary as an embodied archive—that is, as an object and receptacle of information that is literally and figuratively tied to the body. In particular, I examine Inchbald’s references to clothing—wearing her “white silk” dress onstage and off, and her use of a “cletin” elastic waistcoat, which she wore to alleviate the symptoms of her “complaint” (an ailment that plagued her in her later years). Tracing the larger cultural resonance of these garments connects Inchbald’s daily performances to a range of representations of eighteenth-century women. The chapter also looks at Inchbald’s vexed relationship with the notorious actress Mary Wells. I contend that material about their association recorded in Inchbald’s pocket diary represents a “shadow archive” or an alternative record of theatrical women that does not appear in official documents, memoirs, or biographies. The present-day scholar’s relationship to this text, a hybrid genre of private and public material, resembles a touristic encounter—the diary itself presents an opportunity for “staged intimacy,” a window into the backstage regions of Inchbald’s experience.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

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