Conduct Book

(2396 words)
  • Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent at Canterbury)

Historical Context Essay

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

Originating in medieval courtesy literature, and recently re-branded in the self-help manual, the conduct book has proved one of the most enduring literary forms. For at least five centuries conduct books have appeared in the form of sermons, devotional writings, familiar letters, chapbooks and instruction manuals offering advice on mores and manners, spiritual guidance and practical information on state and household duties. Recent critical attention has focussed particularly upon the sizeable body of conduct literature for women (often for women of the middle or upper classes), but in fact advice manuals have also been directed at men and children, as well as governesses and servants. This vast (and often doggedly predictable) body of …

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Batchelor, Jennie. "Conduct Book". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 July 2004
[, accessed 03 July 2015.]