By Amanda Adams

Increasing our figuring out of what it intended to be a nineteenth-century writer, Amanda Adams takes up the idea that of performative, embodied authorship in dating to the transatlantic lecture journey. Adams argues that those excursions have been a primary element of nineteenth-century authorship, at a time while authors have been changing into celebrities and celebrities have been foreign. Spanning the years from 1834 to 1904, Adams's booklet examines the British lecture excursions of yank authors reminiscent of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Mark Twain, and the yankee lecture excursions of British writers that come with Harriet Martineau, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Matthew Arnold. Adams concludes her examine with a dialogue of Henry James, whose American lecture journey came about after a decades-long absence. In highlighting the wide variety of authors who participated during this phenomenon, Adams makes a case for the lecture travel as a microcosm for nineteenth-century authorship in all its contradictions and complexity.

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The one exception to this is Dickens, who performed his fictional works for American audiences. Douglass, Stowe, and Twain, speaking in Britain, discussed American slavery, American cultural independence, and the American character and geography. Martineau, Arnold, Wilde, and James lectured to American audiences on, again, American slavery, American authors, and American aesthetic or popular culture. Thus, both British authors and British audiences were deeply attuned to and interested in the issues on the American side of the Atlantic, and, previewing twentieth-century American self-centeredness, so were Americans.

When he admitted in his published work to being Frederick Bailey, the binding formality of published written work meant Douglass the speaker could not escape responsibility for Bailey’s illegal act of running away from slavery. It was the combination of the two which proved dangerous to his person. In other words, it was a good time to go abroad. And so he agreed to go as part of the Boston Anti-Slavery Society’s lecture tour in Ireland and Great Britain. Unlike the millions of slaves who had crossed in the opposite direction in the preceding centuries, then, Douglass’s transatlantic voyage was his salvation.

It became clear soon after 24 Performing Authorship in the Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Lecture Tour the publication of his Narrative that the details Douglass provided about his past meant that, at any time, his former master could come and claim him. He would be easy to find. He was standing in front of crowds in several states almost nightly. He had had a couple of fearful moments since making it to free soil—enough to urge him to flee another time. He had given a speech in Indiana and had been chased, with a white abolitionist, out of town by a mob, having his hand crushed before escaping.

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