In this essay, I seek to redefine life writing to encompass the very forms used for recordkeeping in eighteenth‐century commonplace books, in the flow of life as it happened, primarily through lines in grids used in indexes for separating pieces of information and designating subject headings. These lines, which functioned as inscriptional marks that required graphic literacy to use, help broaden the conception of manuscript (“written by hand”) to include media other than words formed on a page. John Locke's index‐based system for designing commonplace books, devised in A New Method of Making Common‐Place Books, as well as various examples of eighteenth‐century manuscript commonplace books will be the main objects of focus.

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