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Empire of Letters
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  • Page extent: 372 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.72 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521856188 | ISBN-10: 0521856183)

Among the most frequently reprinted books of the long eighteenth century, English, Scottish and American letter manuals spread norms of polite conduct and communication, which helped to connect and unify different regions of the British Atlantic world, even as they fostered and helped to create very different local and regional cultures and values. By teaching secret writing, they also enabled transatlantic correspondents to communicate what they needed despite interception, censorship and the practice of reading private letters in company. Eve Tavor Bannet uncovers what people knew then about letters that we have forgotten, and revolutionises our understanding of eighteenth-century letters, novels, periodicals, and other kinds of writing in manuscript and print which used the letter form. This lively, interdisciplinary book will change the way we read and interpret eighteenth-century letters and think about the book in the Atlantic world.

• A fascinating study of how eighteenth-century letters were written and read • Insights into the life and literature of the period showing how everyone communicated in letters • A transatlantic and interdisciplinary study that will appeal to scholars of British and American history and literature


Prologue; Part I. Letter Manuals and Eighteenth-Century Letteracy: Introduction; 1. Empire of letters; 2. Manual architectonics; Part II. Letter Manuals in Britain and America: Introduction; 3. Secretaries at the turn of the eighteenth century; 4. The complete letter-writers of the middle years; 5. The art of correspondence, 1790–1820; Part III. Secrecy and the Transatlantic Culture of Letters: Introduction; 6. Public and hidden transcripts; 7. From Crevecoeur to Franklin and Mr. Spectator; Bibliography.


Review of the hardback: 'Not the least merit of Eve Tavor Bannet's groundbreaking book, Empire of Letters, is its critique of the Habermasian division of public and private spheres as it is often understood.' The Times Literary Supplement

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