In anticipation of our forthcoming special issue on ‘The Minerva Press and the Literary Marketplace’, this post is the first in a series by Colette Davies reflecting on the role played by the firm during the Romantic era and its somewhat tarnished reputation in the following centuries—a challenge that the essays in our new issue seek to address. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
The domestic is fundamental to any analysis of Bray’s work, as by domesticating public history and antiquarianism she was able to negotiate a path between maintaining her position as a proper lady and asserting her credentials as a published author/ historian. Historically, Bray’s writing career began at a time when there had been a shift in the basic epistemological structures of history from state politics to social and affective life, family matters. Moreover, Bray’s own family, father, brother and both her husbands were antiquarians, thus her research was presented as an extension of theirs. Finally, in 1822, Bray relocated from London to Devon, a geographical space on the margins of England, and one rich in history, legend and the traditions of ‘Old England’. Yet for Bray, home was a conflicted term representing both family home and homeland, England, which she saw as under threat of losing its identity to the newly created nation of Great Britain and Ireland. In this paper I examine how, through the microcosm of family and region, Bray set about producing an antiquarian record of the English landscape, customs and traditions: an English National Tale. Continue reading →
by Emma Butcher The blow is struck—the lyre is shattered–the music is hushed at length. The greatest—the most various–the most commanding genius of modern times has left us to seek for that successor to his … Continue reading →
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