Professor, British Studies.

Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest.

Research expertise

Eighteenth-century British literature and civilisation; correspondence; epistolary manuals; Mary Delany; William Gilpin.


Individus Pratiques

Mary Delany

Mary Delany (1700-1788) has remained famous for her correspondence and her flower collages. Her life also provides a perfect illustration of a woman seeking participation to collective activity and court, all the while relying on her sense of propriety to adapt to new sociable circles or to organize her own assemblies.


In the eighteenth-century, reading was often regarded as a collective activity of social significance. In many ways, the diversity of reading practices led to collective, sociable enterprises and generated lively exchanges between readers. This private, domestic practice also developed into public, scientific readings, at a time when the organization of society as a whole relied more and more on rising levels of literacy.

William Gilpin and picturesque unsociability

William Gilpin’s name is commonly associated with the notion of the picturesque. If his search for picturesque beauty was central to most of his life, it was more a solitary activity than a collective one. Gilpin’s experience of sociability was first and foremost epistolary and literary. However, the headmaster tried to prepare his pupils for a sociable life and imagined a sociable life after death.