Amanuensis

An amanuensis is ‘a literary assistant, especially one who writes from dictation’. The Ladies Museum Monthly (see below) states that Priscilla’s final three books were written by an amanuensis.

The last three of Priscilla’s books were An Introduction to the Natural History and Classification of Insect, 1816, A Brief Memoir of the life of William Penn, 1816 and Traveller in Asia, 1817. However this may not reflect the actual time they were written.

But, reading Priscilla’s books chronologically it is clear that a change is taking place in the writing style.  The Traveller in Africa, 1814 possibly being a critical point in that transition. By the end of the book gone is the sparkle and freshness of The Juvenile Travellers and Excursions in North America.  One  telling aspect is the apparent careless abandonment of the character of Sancho who was separated from his friend Arthur in Africa and not referred to again. The critical question is who may have been the literary assistant and where was the line drawn between dictation and writing?  Was it daughter Bell or granddaughter Catherine or another family member?

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Published in: on February 26, 2012 at 6:36 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Fascinating – I haven’t reached that point in the narrative yet, but will give this some hard thought.


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