Book Launch – Edmund Gosse’s ‘Tristram Jones’: an autobiographical romance
Tristram Jones: An Autobiographical Romance (c. 1872) – a new insight into the life and work of Edmund Gosse, author of Father and Son (1907).
A celebration of a manuscript by Edmund Gosse written 150 years ago, archived in Cambridge University Library since 1841, and now published for the first time by the Juvenilia Press. This event is being organised by Professor Christine Alexander, a Life Member of Clare Hall, and Emeritus Scientia Professor at the School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney, together with Dr Kathy Rees, independent researcher.
As he relates in his famous memoir, Father and Son (1907), Edmund Gosse grew up in a Plymouth Brethren home where all forms of fiction, even nursery rhymes, were prohibited. Despite parental resistance, Gosse developed a passion for literature during his teens, avidly reading poetry, plays, and fiction whenever he could obtain access to them. In 1867, at the age of 18, Gosse moved from his Devon home to London to begin work as a transcriber at the British Museum, and as well as writing poetry during this period, Gosse composed the autobiographical novella, Tristram Jones. It seems that the manuscript lay forgotten amongst Gosse’s papers, until he came across it in 1902, when he confirmed its autobiographical import. The work is very significant as it offers insights into Gosse’s interests, ambitions, and feelings in his early twenties, a period of his life about which, until now, we have relied only on the retrospective account in Father and Son. Many aspects of Tristram Jones anticipate that later memoir and help us to understand how Father and Son became a classic text that has been enjoyed worldwide for over a century.
Tristram Jones is published by the Juvenilia Press – an international not-for-profit research and teaching project founded in Canada in 1994, and since 2001 based at the School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney. Committed to the recovery, publication, and critical exploration of youthful writings, the Juvenilia Press has over seventy titles on its list. At the Clare Hall launch, Professor Alexander and Dr Rees will talk about the work of the Juvenilia Press, and explain how and why Gosse’s narrative became its most recent publication.
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