Abstract for Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century (15-16 February, 2019)

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I’m thrilled that my paper ‘Inheriting Strawberry Hill: Shared Practices and Shared Spaces’ has been accepted for next year’s conference Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century. The conference brings together scholars and curators from the disciplines of Literature, Cultural History, Art and Architectural History, and Heritage to investigate LGBTQ perspectives on the ‘long’ eighteenth century. The abstract for my paper is included below.

Inheriting Strawberry Hill: Shared Practices and Shared Spaces

This paper will examine Anne Seymour Damer’s brief inheritance and ownership of Horace Walpole’s home Strawberry Hill, following his death in 1797. Although much of the scholarship on the house to date has focused on the design and decoration of Walpole’s gothic-revival edifice, comparatively little research has been conducted on the significance of Damer’s acquisition of the property. Building upon the extensive body of literature on Walpole and sexuality, this paper shifts focus to consider his relationship with Damer, another figure whose sexual orientation has been the subject of intense speculation. Positing Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill as Walpole’s attempt at creating a queer familial legacy for his home, the paper situates this transaction in relation to the interconnected contexts of ownership and loss, emotion and materiality. Alongside a consideration of Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill, which will be identified as a shared space enjoyed by both her and Walpole, the paper will also examine the pair’s shared practices revolving around the house, specifically their coactive extra-illustration of copies of Walpole’s A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole (1784). In so doing, the paper will demonstrate the centrality of the relationship between materiality, queer sociability, and emotion in our understanding of both Strawberry Hill and the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century home more broadly.

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