Chan, Mary

Life of the Lord Keeper North by Roger North
1995 0-7734-8972-X
Roger North, author of Life of the Lord Keeper North, has long been familiar to readers of early 18th-century literature. The first edition was published in 1742, after North's death, by his son Montagu North and has been popular throughout the last two centuries. What was not realized, until Mary Chan's recent work on the manuscripts for the Life, is that Montagu's published version was not the work Roger North wrote, but rather a pastiche of several versions, based on the second-to-last. This edition offers the Life as Roger North conceived of it. Assessment of North's place in the history of life-writing based on the evidence of the 1742 version inevitably has misrepresented and underestimated North's achievment. This edition allows a new assessment. North worked out early in the 18th century a "new" form of biographical writing, significant despite its having been largely unknown, requiring us to readjust our "history". North's work is itself a mirror of contemporary concerns with historiography and draws attention particularly to late seventeenth-century notions of historical truth and its presentation.