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Slide 1: IntroductionThe current working title for my PhD is Lizzie Dripping and the Ladies from Sussex: Affective Presence in the Archive. This is an allusive title, alluding to fictional narratives, which I shall explain during the course of this presentation, and it is these narratives which are used as the instigators and interpretations of archival encounters.
Slide 2: Lizzie Dripping. Cresswell, Helen, Lizzie Dripping (London, BBC: 1973, reprinted Oxford, Oxford University Press: 2004)“Lizzie Dripping” is the title of a 1973 BBC TV series and book created by Helen Cresswell. Lizzie Dripping is Nottinghamshire slang, a nickname given to the heroine, Penelope Arbuckle, who is someone for whom fact and fiction are inextricably intertwined, manifestations in her everyday world, a reality imperceptible to many of those around her.
Slide 3: Ladies from Sussex. Jane Duncan, My Friends George and Tom (London and Basingstoke, Macmillan: 1976)The “Ladies from Sussex” is the nickname that the Scottish author Jane Duncan gave to her many fans, after one such lady from Sussex wrote her a letter complaining about the amount of copulation, both human and animal, in Duncan’s books, such things being ‘not one bit nice’.
Slide 4: Emily Robinson, 'Touching the void: Affective history and the impossible', Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice, Vol 14, No. 4, December 2010, pp503-520Michael H. Hoeflich, 'Serendipity in the Stacks, Fortuity in the Archives', Law Library Journal, Vol 99, no. 4, 2007, pp813-827Historians such as Emily Robinson and Michael Hoeflich have touched upon the affective nature of the physical encounter with documents in archives, but the affective encounter is seen as being at odds with the production of serious historical research, and having no place in the report of that research.
Slide 5: Introduction to Jane DuncanJane Duncan is a twentieth-century Scottish author, now much neglected, who is the key exemplar for my exploration of the affective archival encounter. I first started reading her books in my early teens in my local lending library in Sussex, and I have been reading them ever since and collecting them once I was earning enough to do so.
Slide 6: Based on a True StoryJane Duncan wrote fictionalised versions of her life, which became bestsellers, in various forms, for adults and children, using settings ranging from Glasgow, its university and surrounding towns, the Highlands, border towns, the Thames Valley and Jamaica.
Slide 7: Readers in ArchivesHannah Little, ‘Archive Fever as Genealogical Fever: Coming Home to Scottish Archives’, Archivaria 64, Fall 2007, pp89-111I have mentioned historians already as being figured as the main protagonists in the archival encounter; genealogists are the other most frequently referenced, and such types of researcher are concerned with grounding stories in facts, the underpinnings for their working and personal lives.
Slide 8: What’s the Story?Francis Russell Hart and Lorena Laing Hart, ‘Jane Duncan: The Homecoming of the Imagination’,A History of Scottish Women’s Writing ed. by Douglas Gifford and Dorothy Macmillan, (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press: 1997), pp468-480):Just as Jane Duncan’s fictional versions of her life were not told in a straightforward chronological progression, neither is the reading of her life a simple matter of mapping fiction to a factual dead end, whether within the archive or outside it.
Slide 9: Policing the BoundariesStefanie Preuss, ‘Occasional Paper: Now That’s What I Call a Scottish Canon!’, International Journal of Scottish Literature, Issue Eight, Autumn/Winter 2011, available at http://www.ijsl.stir.ac.uk/issue8/preussOP.htmThe boundaries of discussions of archive users have been restricted to historians and genealogists, the search for salient facts separating the archive from the story. Similar restrictions apply to the boundaries of the Scottish literary canon, which have constricted to exclude Jane Duncan.
Slide 10: InFrancis Russell Hart, The Scottish Novel: A Critical Survey (London, John Murray Publishing: 1978)In 1978, in the critical work ‘The Scottish Novel’, Hart could write about Jane Duncan’s work in terms of transcendence and paradox and elegy, as a Künstlerroman of personal growth, exploring the human condition as it is lived and expressed under the inexorable onslaught of entropy.
Slide 11:Shepherd, Gillian, "Scottish Women Novelists", Chapman, no. 27-28, Summer 1980, pp50-54Two years later, Jane Duncan’s work is dismissed as being merely ‘couthy’ and ‘pawky’, a nostalgic idyll, unworthy of critical literary attention, becoming unmentionable and outcast, with not even passing acknowledgement in recent companions to Scottish literature.
Slide 12: Elizabeth to JaneJane Duncan was the pen name for Elizabeth Jane Cameron. This name taken from her own middle name and her father’s forename, distancing the author but still remaining close to the grounds of her identity. Yet it is this pen name that headlines her gravestone.
Slide 13: Jane to JanetJanet Sandison is the heroine in the 19 book ‘My Friends’ series, in which Janet becomes a writer. The four ‘Jean’ books are published under the name Janet Sandison, and photography links Janet, Jane and Elizabeth in one corporeal form, despite the pseudonymous distancing.
Slide 14: ReadersJane Duncan, My Friends George and Tom (London, Macmillan: 1976)Jane Duncan, Letter from Reachfar (London, Macmillan: 1975)This composite author incorporates another body with her post-modernist approach to her reader, stating that the reader creates the text as much the author, conceiving and constructing her books as a conversation with her reader.
Slide 15: Readers in ArchivesSo her reader’s investment in the story of Elizabeth/Jane/Janet turns to her archival presence, one of which is found in her personal archives, now residing in Glasgow University’s Special Collections, currently in the process of being sorted and catalogued.
Slide 16: Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With StringIn series A, which covers published and unpublished manuscripts, most of the manuscripts were wrapped in paper, labelled and tied with string or tape, a series of presents evoking the author’s presence and a tidiness in organising her personal records that reflects Duncan’s time at Glasgow Business School.
Slide 17: Order: MS Gen1700/A/1/62In these personal archives, one single manuscript is a haunting three-in-one, a single manuscript that has later dissolved into a trinity of published books closely concerned with Hart’s paradox of elegy, lost and regained. This encounter is an archival exclusive for the Duncan devotee.
Slide 18: Ask The ExpertEric Ketelaar, ‘Sharing: Collected Memories in Communities of Records’, Archives and Manuscripts, Volume 33, 2005, pp44-61, available as electronic text at http://cf.hum.uva.nl/bai/home/eketelaar/Sharing.doc, accessed on 20 February 2010The depth of the archival encounter relies on a relationship between the creator, the archivist and the user, a dynamic relationship that feeds on itself to create ‘something rich and strange, from decaying papers in boxes and folders, covered with variously coloured markings.
Slide 19: PersonalFondsJane Duncan, My Friends the Misses Kindness (London and Basingstoke, Macmillan: 1974)On her return from Jamaica, Janet reflects on the “nemo-sign”, the remembered child’s mispronunciation of “Mnemosyne”, the name of the ship in which she travels. The nemo-sign is the absence of identity, of self. Divine memory contained and constructed in the relationship between creator, archiver and user gives rise to an archive of self-identity. This time, it’s personal.
Slide 20: The Double OuroborosThe ‘sea-change’ which takes place on the journey on the good ship Memory arises from the construction of self in relation to others, using all the experience of encounters within and outside the archive. The story and the facts exist in a constant state of consumption and renewal, a state that is signified by the double ouroboros.
Katharine Woods - prize winner
Lizzie Dripping and the
Ladies from Sussex:
Affective Presence in the
PhD Information Studies, HATII
Year 1, Part-time
„It often looked as if she
was telling what most
people would call fibs. She
wasn't of course. She was
just making things up as
she went along --- and that
is quite a different matter‟
„Lizzie was a very honest
(Cresswell, 1973, pp1-2, p30)
„I spent a considerable part of
each day replying to the
letters and was actually glad
when, one day, a very rude
letter arrived from a lady who
lived in Sussex.‟
„no matter where the letters
came from, no matter what
the sex of the writers might
be, Rory [the postman] was
always greeted with the
words : “Are there any Ladies
from Sussex among them
(Duncan, 1976, pp75 and 77)
„There is a deeply affective side to
historical work which might not be
readily admitted in print but which
animates discussions among
colleagues and sends historians
dashing to archives, pencils
sharpened, digital cameras
charged, minds racing.‟
„the physical touch of documents is often an essential
part of the inspiration that moves a researcher to make
a serendipitous discovery--it connects the researcher
in a very real way to the period under study. […] the
feeling of holding that document has never left me.‟
Born 1910, died1976
Lived: Environs of Glasgow, the south of England,
Biggar, Jamaica and the Black Isle
Attended Glasgow University 1927-1930 and
Glasgow Business School
Served with the WAAF in WW2, and was
commissioned into Photographic Intelligence
Did not marry but lived with Sandy Clapperton as
man and wife
Wrote books to earn a living after Sandy‟s death
Based on a True Story
Seven manuscripts simultaneously accepted for
publication by Macmillan
Nineteen „My Friends‟ novels
Five „Camerons‟ books
Four „Jean‟ books
Three „Janet Reachfar‟ picture books
One autobiographical FAQ
Readers in Archives
„if archives are only
for your own family‟s
history, for your
needs, for your own
version of history,
and for your own
sense of identity,
there may not be
any room to learn
about or identify with
(Little, 2007, p111)
What‟s the Story?
„Along with her worldwide family of
readers, we have wondered what is
fact, fiction or myth, particularly in the
relation of her fictional „I‟, Janet
Sandison, to her actual life and self.‟
Hart and Hart (1997, p468)
Policing the Boundaries
„texts that cannot easily be
constituted as 'national' texts
in their content, theme or
style, or writers whose political
opinions are not in line with
literary nationalism are omitted
from the canon – despite its
ostensible plurality. This
results in a rather one-sided
depiction of political views, of
the oeuvre of certain authors
and of the kind of genres that
are considered most
representative of the nation.‟
„History and society merely externalize
the sad imperatives of personal growth
[…] It is the central paradox of elegy:
the exploration of loss transforms the
lost beloved into a reality of
transcendent power; space and time
become a new dimension in memory.‟
Hart (1978, p386)
„The most prolific Scottish
women writers are those
who deal with family life -
usually happy - in a
couthy, pawky way […]
an idealised rural setting,
in series such as Jane
(Shepherd, 1980, p53)
Readers in Books
„“The person that hears the story makes it
I looked at the boy with admiration. “Sometimes,”
I said, “I think that Duncan is the only one in this
family who has any real sense. Of course, the
person who hears the story or reads the story
contributes just as much to it as the person who
tells it or writes it.”‟
„In the original script, every other page contained
the words „ Dear Reader‟ because I had always
liked this direct old-fashioned approach to the
reader and I thought it conveyed the thought
behind my writing. I write as a friend to a friend
who is my dear reader.‟
(Duncan, (1976, 1975)
Readers in Archives
University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections
Papers of Elizabeth Jane Cameron (Jane Duncan)
MS Gen 1770
MS Gen 1770/A – Published and unpublished