Part biography, part detective novel, part love story, and part meditation on archival research, Love Among the Archives is an experiment in writing a life. This is the story of two literary critics' attempts to track down Sir George Scharf, the founding director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, famous in his day and strangely obscure in our own. After discovering Scharf's scrapbook of menus and invitations from England's most stately homes, the authors began their adventures in the archives of London, searching Scharf's diaries, sketchbooks, and letters for traces of the man who so loved dining out. Addicted to Victorian novels, the authors looked for a marriage plot, but found Scharf's passionate attachment to a younger man who had hidden from him a secret engagement; they looked for a Bildungsroman, but found that Scharf never left his beloved mother. Always short of money, self-educated, talented, irascible, gregarious, prolific, and snobbish, this son of a poor immigrant artist was to become the right-hand man of an earl he called "my best friend." The written record of his nightmares, debts, gifts, and dinner parties comes together to produce a rich Victorian character whose personal and professional lives challenge what we think we know about sex, class, and profession in his time.
Helena Michie is Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor in Humanities and Professor of English at Rice University. She is the author of Victorian Honeymoons: Journeys to the Conjugal (2006), Sororophobia: Differences Among Women in Literature and Culture (1991) and The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women's Bodies (1987) and co-editor with Ronald Thomas of Nineteenth-Century Geographies: From the Victorian Age to the American Century (2002). Robyn Warhol is Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at the Ohio State University, where she is a core faculty member of Project Narrative.? She is the author of Having a Good Cry: Effeminate Feelings and Pop Culture Forms (2003) and Gendered Interventions: Narrative Discourse in the Victorian Novel (1989) and co-editor with Susan S. Lanser of Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions (2015).