National Biography and the Arts of Memory: From Thomas Fuller to Colin Matthew

Ian Donaldson

in Mapping Lives

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263181
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734595 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Centenary Monographs

National Biography and the Arts of Memory: From Thomas Fuller to Colin Matthew

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The arts of memory and of biography have always been closely related. For instance, the memoir, which is an act of remembrance, has a double sense: it looks at the past and to the future, selecting from the stream of memories to form an enduring record called memorial by which events and people can be remembered in the years to come. In Restoration England, memoirs and memorials were popular forms when the word ‘biography’ first appeared. During this period there was an intense interest in the chronicling of the lives of those who contributed much to political and religious events. This commemoration of lives, which gained momentum in Restoration England, was an ancient enterprise. Biographies were regarded as durable monuments wherein the idea of remembrance took an important place. This attributed significance made those endowed with powerful memories venerated people. This chapter discusses the remarkable memorialists of the period. It looks at the career of Reverend Dr. Thomas Fuller as a biographer and as an author of many historical works. Fuller exhibited a photographic memory and an inclination to the memorization of long passages. In addition to this technique, he also adopted a rule that assisted memory; he employed the methodical distribution of facts into discrete locations. As for his biographical methods, Fuller considered two factors: the sense of pragmatism, and the sense of piety.

Keywords: arts of memory; arts of biography; memoir; act of remembrance; memorial; Restoration England; commemoration of lives; concept of memory; memorialist; Thomas Fuller

Chapter.  7157 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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