John Opie

Karen Junod

in ‘Writing the Lives of Painters’

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199597000
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725357 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

John Opie

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter discusses Amelia Opie's Memoir of her husband, the painter John Opie. It argues that Opie's Memoir marks a pivotal transition in the biographical writing of artists' lives in Britain. Unlike most other lives of artists published in Britain in the eighteenth century, Opie's Memoir portrayed her subject in a private setting. The domestic environment in which Amelia Opie set her biography marked a sharp contrast with the public and often cosmopolitan spheres in which earlier lives of painters had been inscribed. The private world in which Amelia chose to present her husband was not without its tensions, however. This chapter shows that the dynamic between biographer and subject was complicated by gendered issues, and especially by the biographer's conflicting duty and desire to pay tribute to the life of her spouse, while at the same time implicitly promoting her own work and career as a successful novelist.

Keywords: Amelia Opie; John Opie; Memoirs; public; private; biographer; gender; duty

Chapter.  10864 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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