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Nineteenth-Century Settler Emigration in British Literature and Art$
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Fariha Shaikh

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474433693

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474433693.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Printed Emigrants’ Letters: Networks of Affect and Authenticity

Printed Emigrants’ Letters: Networks of Affect and Authenticity

(p.31) Chapter 1 Printed Emigrants’ Letters: Networks of Affect and Authenticity
Nineteenth-Century Settler Emigration in British Literature and Art

Fariha Shaikh

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter One looks at printed emigrants’ letters, a genre that has hitherto been neglected in both literary and historical studies of emigration on account of their dubious authenticity. Nineteenth-century publishers saw emigrants’ letters written to friends, family, emigration societies and philanthropists as a valuable source of information on emigration. Letters were often printed and circulated in a wide array of places, from periodicals to emigration society reports, pamphlets to edited collections. This chapter explores the ways in which printed emigrants’ letters manage the text’s transition from manuscript to print. It focusses on collections of edited letters which were published by an emigration scheme or society, such as the New Zealand Company, Thomas Sockett’s Petworth Emigration Scheme, and Caroline Chisholm’s Family Colonisation Loan Society. These letters provide first-hand accounts of emigration, of the colonies and of settling. They exude an intimate, personal tone and provide readers with a vicarious experience of emigration. At the same time, however, printed letters have been taken out of the context of small, personal networks of circulation and placed in the larger, and more public circulation, of print. Editors were keen to impress upon a suspicious reading public that the letter’s mobility, as it travelled from the colonies back to Britain and into print, had not compromised its authenticity. Producing the effect of being authentic was an integral part of these letters’ commodity status: potential emigrants had to be convinced that the tales of the colonies in the letters really were true if they were going to buy them.

Keywords:   Print Culture, Emigrants’ Letters, Networks, Authenticity, Affect, Distance

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