I've just finished reading 'Mrs Robinson's Disgrace', another cracking read from Kate Summerscale (I previously read her 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher'). This new book is about a divorce case in 1858 (one of the first after divorce stopped being reliant on the passing of an Act of Parliament) where the evidence for the husband of his wife's infidelity came from her private journal.

Publicly at least, everyone involved in the case and those spectating were outraged and shocked by the honest and explicit content of Mrs Robinson's diary. And since she addressed a 'reader' there were questions about whether it was intended for publication. However, Summerscale suggests that the addressing of 'the reader' might give an explanation as to why Mrs Robinson kept such a journal: since she no longer believed an spiritual afterlife, she hoped for compassion from future generations. She finishes despondently, 'May you [the reader] be more happy.'

It is my contention that writing is essentially a relational act, writing means we are communicating something to someone, we are always writing for a reader. The reader may be ourselves (our present or future selves). However, in being that reader, we will also be influenced by the myriad of people who have already responded to what we write or say, as well as the myriad of others who we imagine responses from. Though we may sit down alone with pen and paper or at the keyboard, our space is thickly populated with audiences - real and fantasised - from our past, present and future.