On his website, Ian Lancashire, from the University of Toronto, reports on research done on the language of Agatha Christie and Iris Murdoch, and by way of a control informant, on that of P.D. James. He wrote a paper on the topic with Graeme Hirst, called “Vocabulary changes in Agatha Christie’s mysteries as an indication of dementia: A case study”. The paper is available through his website.
These are modern novelists, and what I was wondering about is whether it would also be possible to conduct similar analysis on letter writers, and letter writers from the past. There are some, such as Fanny Burney, for whom we have masses of material from her entire lifespan. Undigitised as yet, unfortunately. I doubt if Fanny Burney suffered from Alzheimer’s in her old age, but others may have done. Any thoughts on this?