Loretta Mulholland

Project Title: Travels East, West and Back Again: Researching and Writing Isabella Bird Artfully

HEI: University of Dundee

School: School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

Supervisors: Professor Graeme Morton and Professor Kirsty Gunn, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, University of Dundee.

About Loretta’s Research

Loretta Mulholland
Loretta Mulholland

Isabella Bird (1831-1904) was a writer and traveller based in Scotland. Unusually for a woman at that time, she travelled extensively unaccompanied and published accounts of her journeys. I aim to explore her writing to reflect what historians might learn from her subjective approach and write a series of creative essays that addresses what is at stake in writing such ‘artful’ histories. These will also address the challenges of writing as a woman traveller in a male-centred Victorian republic of letters, asking what her life and times has to offer contemporary readers.

My project is not another biography; instead, by exploring theories of historiography, using literary techniques, and including extracts from Bird’s work, I will write a series of first-person, creative non-fiction essays, which will give voice to various narrators and provide the historical setting and ideological framework to create a series of imaginative narratives which bring different perspectives on Bird’s life and travels. My essays will explore themes such as landscape, solitariness, and creativity; truth, memory, and memorials; exoticism in travel writing; marginal voices, racism, post-colonialism, and the literary value of the epistolatory form.

The main outcome will be a book of creative non-fiction essays, which is aimed at a wider public but undertaken with the research rigour and insights of academic historians. From this, I will raise awareness of how art and the literary imaginative have also a part to play in recovering history, and by doing so contribute to debates about how to write history.


E-mail: 999968192@dundee.ac.uk
Twitter: @LorettaMulholl1
Facebook: loretta.mulholland.1