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The ‘Petit Libertin’: Editing John Cleland’s Correspondence

Northumbria University

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This lecture is entitled The ‘Petit Libertin’: Editing John Cleland’s Correspondence and will be delivered by Dr Helen Williams, Northumbria Graduate, Associate Professor of English Literature and Acting Deputy Director of Cultural Partnerships, Northumbria University.

Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm

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The lecture is in recognition of Professor Richard Terry, Professor of 18th century Literature at Northumbria University and celebrates the launch of the Professor Richard Terry Memorial Scholarship, which offers academically talented students the opportunity to study at Northumbria regardless of their social or economic circumstances.

Richard was an outstanding teacher and colleague who inspired many students during his thirteen years at Northumbria and was well respected externally as a literary scholar. His collaboration with Helen Williams began when they co-edited a new edition of John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure for Broadview Press and later, with Professor Peter Sabor, the Cambridge Edition of the Correspondence of John Cleland.

During her lecture, Helen will outline the work of John Cleland, the author of the erotic novel, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748). Written while the author was in debtors' prison in London, the Memoirs is one of the most notorious banned books of all time, and it was one from which Cleland increasingly but unsuccessfully sought to distance himself. Cleland’s letters, which will shortly be published in the forthcoming Cambridge Edition of the Correspondence of John Cleland, offer an entertaining insight into the life of a “jobbing author” in the 18th century who never quite secured the political career or literary celebrity he expected.

Speaker Biography

Dr Helen Williams is Associate Professor of English Literature and Acting Deputy Director of Cultural Partnerships at Northumbria University. She is the author of Laurence Sterne and the Eighteenth-Century Book (CUP, 2021), co-editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Correspondence of John Cleland (2024), and co-editor with Professor Richard Terry of Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure for Broadview Press. She currently holds a British Academy Innovation Fellowship in collaboration with the Stationers’ Company Archive for a project exploring the history of women in the book trades in the long eighteenth century.

 

 

Event Details

Northumbria University
The Presentation Hall
School of Design
City Campus East Newcastle upon Tyne
NE2 1UY


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