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Items tagged with 'fiction'

Article: William Lane, the Ramble Novel and the Genres of Romantic Irish Fiction

This article concerns the early career of William Lane as a fiction publisher, before his adoption of the Minerva brand in 1792. It reveals that Lane played an active role in promoting Irish-authored fiction to London readers, and contributed to the endurance of a popular yet neglected form of mid-eighteenth-century comic fiction. In the 1780s, Lane published many Irish novelists; also notable among his novels were several ‘ramble novels’, or bluff comedies of masculine travel in the style of Fielding and Smollett. It was only later that his press became known for Gothic and historical fiction and associated with the female reader. The article charts the popularity of ramble fiction in the 1780s and its treatment by reviewers and anthologists. It then closely examines one Irish ramble novel published by Lane in order to demonstrate the significance of the form to the history of Irish fiction and its capacity to accommodate serious political themes. The Minor, or the History of George O’Nial (1786) engages with the campaigns against the Penal Laws, which restricted the freedoms of Catholics and Dissenters. It was written in the midst of the first repeals of certain of these laws, and calls for more far-reaching reforms. Through a narrative centred on Irish characters, the novel advocates for Ireland’s disempowered Catholic inhabitants. Continue reading

Article: Re-evaluating the Minerva Press

This collection of nine essays, several by well-seasoned scholars of Minerva or its novels, exemplifies how crucial collaboration is and will be for continued understanding of the popular novel in the Romantic literary marketplace. The essays in ‘The Minerva Press and the Literary Marketplace’ converse with each other in multiple and overlapping ways, and have been divided into three sections that illuminate exciting new inroads to scholarship on the Minerva Press. ‘Minerva Genres’ illustrates the generic diversity of Lane’s publications; this is followed by ‘Minerva Readers and Writers’, which nuances the customary profiling of Lane’s authors and his target audience; while ‘Reading Minerva with New Methods’ reassesses Minerva’s reading communities, both contemporary and more modern-day. Continue reading

Review: Jakub Lipski and Jacek Mydla (eds), The Enchantress of Words, Sounds and Image (rev.)

Described by Thomas de Quincey as ‘the great enchantress of [her] generation’, Ann Radcliffe has long been identified as the author whose work contributed more than that of any other to the popularity of Gothic … Continue reading

Article: Four Nations Fiction by Women, 1789–1830

This collection of articles, which results from the ‘Four Nations Fiction’ conference that took place in 2013, is structured around the intersection of place with gender in terms of two vibrant research fields: the archipelagic or four nations turn within literary studies and the still-expanding map of Romantic-period women’s writing. Continue reading

Article: ‘The bounds of female reach’

The Birmingham-based novelist Catherine Hutton (1756–1846) was acknowledged in the Monthly Magazine for 1821 as one of ‘twenty-four ladies of pre-eminent talents as writers in various departments of literature and philosophy’. Her work is little read or discussed these days, but offers some fascinating possibilities for research into women’s writing and narratives of travel. This chapter explores how Hutton’s frequent visits to Wales from the 1780s, recorded in travel journals, provided both material and form for her later novels. Welsh landscapes and Welsh culture are often figured in her fiction as spaces of possibility and freedom for women, and are used, in terms that owe much to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, to critique the constraints of contemporary urban society. Continue reading

Article: The ‘Noble Savage’ in Ann of Swansea’s Welsh Fictions

The writings of Ann Julia Hatton (1764–1838), who from 1810 published under the pen-name ‘Ann of Swansea’, reflect changes in the political spirit of her age as it interwove with episodes in her personal history. Though her 1784 collection of verse is conventional in its politics, The Songs of Tammany (1794), a panegyric in praise of the American-Indian ‘Noble Savage’ written during the years she spent in New York, is heated in its denunciation of European colonialism. After she returned to Britain in 1799 and settled in Swansea, her novels Cambrian Pictures (1810) and Guilty or Not Guilty (1822) showed an equivalent radicalism in their depiction of Welsh characters casting off the yoke of subservience to a corrupt Anglicized gentry and demonstrating that an upbringing in Wales instils all the natural virtues as opposed to the artifices of contemporary civilization. In other fictions, however, such as her satire on the townspeople of Gooselake (i.e. Swansea) in Chronicles of an Illustrious House (1816), Welsh ‘Noble Savages’ have befooled themselves by succumbing to the allure of corrupting sophistications. This paper explores these transitions in Ann of Swansea’s fictional representations of Wales. Continue reading

Article: ‘English verdure, English culture, English comfort’

This article shifts attention away from the perfections of England to explore the place of Ireland in Jane Austen’s Emma. Intrigued by Jane Fairfax’s refusal to travel with the Dixons in Ireland, Emma conjectures spitefully about an unrequited—or possibly consummated—affair between Jane and Mr Dixon. Obfuscating his actual affair with Jane, Frank Churchill uses Emma’s Irish conjectures to flirt with both women. Ireland becomes a repository of gothic potential over the course of Austen’s novel: a space upon which characters can map their unspoken and unspeakable desires. Austen accesses the Irish gothic to ask questions about national identity, legitimacy and power. Continue reading

Article: Canals, Commerce and the Construction of Nation

The interplay between commerce and sensibility has been well documented: commercial activity is celebrated in eighteenth-century sentimental rhetoric for its ability to incite civility, reform manners and promote virtue. In the same way, the transformative effects of commerce informed discourses of sympathy and national identity throughout the latter half of the eighteenth century and into the Romantic period. This article considers Sydney Owenson’s focus on commercial improvement in post-union Ireland in her 1814 novel O’Donnel: A National Tale. As Owenson developed her formal experimentations with the national tale, she made a series of revisions to the 1812 edition of St Clair (originally published in 1803) in which she echoes contemporary political discussions about Ireland’s potential for trade through the navigation of its waterways, suggesting an emerging interest in Irish commercial progress that would go on to influence her subsequent novels. O’Donnel appraises the value of English schemes for Irish improvement in the form of canals, aqueducts and road building within the context of Enlightenment models of historical progress and sympathy. In doing so, Owenson provides an extended critique of ascendancy schemes of improvement and of the role of geography in the formation of Irish national identity, revealing a profound anxiety about both the ideological ‘mapping’ of the Irish landscape in the post-union period and the formation of international communities based on sympathetic identification. Continue reading

Article: ‘She had recourse to her pen’

This article explores Elizabeth Hamilton’s response to the abuse of Jacobin radicalism in early nineteenth-century Britain. It situates Hamilton’s fictional representations of revolutionary principles and her outspoken caricatures of contemporary radicals in her three-volume Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800) within the trajectory of the gradual decline of radical voices from the mid-1790s onwards. This article demonstrates how new philosophical principles are presented in the novel as impractical and subversive in nature, as a way for Hamilton to show readers that these principles are dangerous and likely to be falsely adopted to destroy all fair domestic and public values. Ultimately, it argues for the discursive space Hamilton created to challenge and destabilise Jacobin radicalism, and also aims to shed light on the gendered conventions of public participation in the period. Continue reading

Article: Making Space for Wollstonecraft

In 1798, Mary Barker published her only known novel, A Welsh Story, which follows members of two Glamorganshire families through courtships to marriage and parenthood. Largely forgotten today, Barker was good friends with Robert Southey, collaborated with Wordsworth to publish Lines Addressed to a Noble Lord (1815) an attack on Byron and lived amongst the Lake Poets for much of the early nineteenth century. Reading A Welsh Story alongside Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) I argue here that Barker altered the form of Wales-related Romantic novels and utilised the radical potential which the imagined space of Wales offered her in order to create a fictionalised vision of Wollstonecraft’s depictions of, and idealistic hopes for, British society. Continue reading

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