Epistolary voices: The Case of Elisabeth Wolff and Agatha Deken

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The article focuses on two related issues: authorship distinction and the analysis
of characters’ voices in fiction. It deals with the case of Elisabeth Wolff and
Agatha Deken, two women writers from the Netherlands who collaboratively
published several epistolary novels at the end of the 18th century. First, the
task division between the two authors will be analysed based on their usage of
words and their frequencies. Next, any stylistic differences between the characters
(letter writers) will be dealt with. The focus lies on Wolff’s and Deken’s first joint
novel, Sara Burgerhart (1782). As to the authorship, nothing clearly showed a
clear task division, which implies that Deken’s and Wolff’s writing styles are very
much alike. This confirms findings of other scholars, who found that collaborating
authors jointly produce a style that is distinguishable from both authors’
personal styles. As to stylistic differences in the voices of the characters in Sara
Burgerhart, it was found that only a couple of the letter writers are clearly distinguishable
compared with the main characters in the novel. I experimented
with two possible tools to zoom in on the exact differences between those characters,
but the methods are still too subjective to my taste. In the follow-up
research, I will look further than words and their frequencies as building
stones of literary style.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
JournalLLC: the journal of digital scholarship in the humanities
Issue number3
Early online date21 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • authorship attribution
  • stylometry


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