Friendship: A History is the first book that has attempted to consider friendship across such a very long period of time – from Classical Athens to the current day – one far too long for any individual even to hope to cover. And it is of course a collaborative work that has been devised, developed and written by a group of scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds and different areas of specialty. The book necessarily reflects both our expertise and our limitations. It is clearly a history of friendship in the West – and we look forward to the appearance of other studies that explore the meaning, the nature and the changing pattern of friendships in other parts of the world.
The writing process itself was an experimental venture involving a team of people working closely together and in ways that were new to us all. We wanted the book to be a multi-authored work that could be read as a continuous history rather than as a series of discrete essays. Several of us have written jointly with colleagues in the past – but never with a group of twelve! We planned and worked on the book quite intensively over a couple of years, designing it in the course of a number of workshops, recording some of our general discussions and talking through the themes very thoroughly before beginning to write.