Hester Lynch Piozzi’s Retrospection is little discussed in the historiography of world history. This article explores Piozzi’s composition, publication, and repeated reinscription of the work from the mid 1780s to her death in 1821, and locates it within her varied efforts at describing a social index of affinity and cohesion. Drawing out this dimension of the work highlights the opportunity to connect textual annotation with another nineteenth-century textual expression of social relationships—photography—and thereby provides an avenue to expand John Sutton’s research on physical “exograms” through a consideration of desired as well as actual relationships. In this way, Retrospection—and world histories—are seen as opportunities for authors to bind themselves to the “middlebrow” communities of friend-readers, and thus as works of far “smaller compass” than traditional analyses of imperial and national themes would suggest.


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pp. 883-906
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