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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Romanticism was not just about the high points of insight and emotion: people lived ordinary lives, nourished by bonds of reciprocity. If people were separated by distance, reciprocity was sustained by letters. Letters were not only a vehicle for exchange of information and opinions: they played an important role in upholding and reaffirming a set of relations. They brought people together, strengthened family relationships, and helped to build social networks. The generic boundaries between letters and journals were fluid: the impetus for journal writing was often reciprocal exchange or collaboration. Letters and journals were compositions, in which writers constructed narratives of their lives. They were not the background to creative work, but creative work in themselves. Many different interests contributed to the preservation of Romantic-period letters and journals. The story of the survival of these personal documents is also a story of the transmission of value.

Keywords: Romantic period, letters, journals, reciprocity, social networks, composition, creativity, collaboration, value

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