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Despite 21st-century fears of an "epidemic" of loneliness, its history has been sorely neglected. A Biography of Loneliness offers a radically new interpretation of loneliness as an emotional language and experience.
Using letters and diaries, philosophical tracts, political discussions, and medical literature from the 18th century to the present, historian of the emotions Fay Bound Alberti argues that loneliness is not a historical, universal phenomenon. It is, in fact, a modern emotion: before 1800, its language did not exist. And where loneliness is identified, it is not always bad, but a complex emotional state that differs according to class, gender, ethnicity, and experience.
Looking at informative case studies such as Sylvia Plath, Queen Victoria, and Virginia Woolf, A Biography of Loneliness charts the emergence of loneliness as a modern and embodied emotional state.