‘Alchemy and Monstrous Love’

Frances Harris

in Writing Lives

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698233
Published online March 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191803772 | DOI:
‘Alchemy and Monstrous Love’

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter examines the so-called ‘affective biography’ as a form of life writing in early modern England, focusing on Sir Robert Moray. Moray was a soldier, royalist agent, one of the founders of the Royal Society, and a leading figure in the post-Restoration government of Scotland. The chapter describes affective biography as a biography with a strong love interest, one centred on relationships. It also discusses two particular episodes in Moray’s life to determine how lives that were lived simultaneously in more than one dimension can be represented in their full meaning. The first episode took place in the winter of 1665–1666, when the court had transferred to Oxford because of the plague. The second deals with the question of Moray’s wives, or rather his ‘wives’. In addition, the chapter looks at the platonic friendship in a religious context between John Evelyn, a middle-aged man, and Margaret Godolphin, a much younger woman. Finally, it considers Moray’s relationship with his niece, Sophia Lindsay.

Keywords: affective biography; life writing; England; Robert Moray; biography; love; relationships; John Evelyn; Margaret Godolphin; Sophia Lindsay

Chapter.  7814 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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