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Department of English Studies

Horace Walpole and His Legacies: Tercentenary Lectures

Walpole’s Diminutions

12th December 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 141, Fiona Robertson (Durham University)

Despite being an important figure in his own time, Horace Walpole suffered put-downs from later writers and thinkers. Why? Find out at this free public lecture from our series Horace Walpole and his Legacies. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

Note that the date of this lecture has changed to 12th December, not 5th December as originally advertised.

Reviewing Walpole’s letters to George Montagu for the Edinburgh Review in 1818, William Hazlitt wrote: ‘In one word, every thing about him was in little; and the smaller the object, and the less its importance, the higher did his estimation and his praises of it ascend.’ This lecture examines the various ways and contexts in which Walpole’s reputation was diminished in the generations following his own; and links these to an aesthetic of diminution and inconsequentiality in his writings, buildings, and styles of design and collecting. According to his published description of Strawberry Hill, it was a ‘small capricious house’, ‘a paper fabric and an assemblage of curious trifles, made by an insignificant man’. The lecture draws together the various elements of Walpole’s style, across disciplines, by examining a determined courtship of, and resistance to, diminution and dissolution.

Image credit: Strawberry Hill House in Autumn, reproduced courtesy of Strawberry Hill House Gardens.

Contact fiona.robertson@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.


Lectures