Walpole’s Diminutions (Public lecture, 12th December)

Strawberry Hill House, a white neo-Gothic castle, with autumn leaves in front of it
Strawberry Hill House in Autumn, reproduced courtesy of Strawberry Hill House Gardens.

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 with Fiona Robertson, part of our Walpole and His Legacies series. This talk starts at 18.15 on 12th December, in Elvet Riverside 141.

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.

All members of the public are warmly welcome to this lecture series, looking at one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the eighteenth century. Booking is not required. Join the conversation online via #WalpoleLegacies, and find this event on Facebook.

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