Autobiography: History or Fiction?: <i>William Baldwin Writing History “under the Shadow of Dreames and Visions” in</i> A Mirror for Magistrates <i>(1559)</i>

Meredith Anne Skura

in Tudor Autobiography

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226761879
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226761886 | DOI:
Autobiography: History or Fiction?: William Baldwin Writing History “under the Shadow of Dreames and Visions” in A Mirror for Magistrates (1559)

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This chapter moves from arguments about literary and discursive convention to debates about the place, if any, of fiction in autobiography. One of the most important unrecognized texts in the history of autobiography is William Baldwin's A Mirror for Magistrates (1559). Mirror, a collection of first-person fictional monologues by “ghosts” of fallen English princes, is framed by Baldwin's own first-person tongue-in-cheek account of how he and his coauthors composed the monologues. Mirror's unique combination throughout of outward-looking history and inward-looking “poesie,” rather than disqualifying it for a place in the history of autobiography, inspired later autobiographical writing by both its contributors and its readers.

Keywords: fiction; autobiography; William Baldwin; A Mirror for Magistrates; fictional monologues; English princes; autobiographical writing

Chapter.  10143 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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