Diana Barnes Lecture

16 October 2019


Image: Peter Lely, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, 1665.

Margaret Cavendish’s Life of Newcastle (1667), a Wifely Intervention in the Making of History

A public lecture by Dr Diana Barnes, Lecturer in English Literary Studies, University of New England and 2019 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

By 1667 when Margaret Cavendish’s biography of her husband, Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince William Cavendish, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle; Earl of Ogle; Viscount Mansfield; and Baron of Bolsover, of Ogle, Bothal and Hepple … was published, she was already an established print author with a staggering number of titles to her name. Those works ranged across a variety of genres and modes from poetry and prose fiction, to plays, oratory, letters and philosophy. Her reputation as a print author rested upon them, in particular the elaborate and defensive paratexts written mostly by herself and her husband (Newcastle) addressing the public debate about her authorship. A lot has been written about the desire for fame that drove Cavendish’s presentation of herself as a print author, royalist and wife. In this public lecture, Dr Barnes will discuss how Life of Newcastle makes a pointed intervention in the historical account of the English civil war being promoted in publications of the 1650s and 1660s.

Dr Diana Barnes is Lecturer in English Literary Studies at the University of New England. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Queensland (2013-2017). From 2010 to 2013, she was a Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery project, ‘Continuities and Changes in the History of European Women’s Letter Writing.’ Dr Barnes is the recipient of a wide range of international scholarships, including, most recently, the James M. Osborne Fellowship in English and History, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (2014); S. Ernest Sprott Fellowship, University of Melbourne 2012-13); and an Australian Academy of the Humanities Travelling Fellowship (2009). Dr Barnes is the author of a well-received monograph, Epistolary Community in Print, 1580-1664 (Ashgate, 2013), and a range of book chapters and peer-reviewed articles related to her interests in gender, community, emotion in early modern English literature. She is currently working on two major book projects, ‘‘The Politics of Civility: Historicising Early Modern Genres of Community’ and ‘Gender and Stoicism in Early Modern Literature’.