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 →
At the conclusion of his speech unveiling the Memorial Fountain at Cockermouth, H. J. Palmer declaimed ‘Poets are born, not made’, but, as Saeko Yoshikawa demonstrates throughout William Wordsworth and the Invention of Tourism, national figures … Continue reading →
There’s an infinitive verb that scholars have been using with increasing relish over the last decade or so: ‘to problematise’. I am a fan neither of the term nor of the practice, believing that for … Continue reading →
Offering a wide-ranging and highly nuanced perspective on the works of Robert Burns, Nigel Leask’s Robert Burns and Pastoral has deservedly endured as a key work within Burns Studies since its original publication in 2010. … Continue reading →
Begin at the beginning, with the first line of the ‘Introduction’ to Devin Griffiths’s The Age of Analogy: Literature between the Darwins: ‘In the summer of 1857, Charles Darwin unlocked the clasp of a new … Continue reading →
In the 1805 version of The Prelude, William Wordsworth emphatically addresses Samuel Taylor Coleridge as ‘Friend!’ several times (Carlson, p. 226). As Julia S. Carlson notes in Romantic Marks and Measures: Wordsworth’s Poetry in Fields of … Continue reading →
Charles Harpur (1813–68) is recognised in his native Australia as a pioneering Romantic poet, but his achievements are little recognised elsewhere. This essay considers his contribution to the development of Romantic tragedy. He wrote two tragedies, The Bushrangers (1853, orig. 1835), a gothic bandit drama in the tradition of Schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), and King Saul (c. 1838), an incomplete Biblical drama apparently inspired by Byron’s Cain: A Mystery (1821). Like many European playwrights of the period, Harpur was deeply influenced by the new kinds of melodrama that were sweeping the stage, but also sought to distinguish his literary productions from more popular fare. His alienation from the popular theatre was exacerbated by his colonial context, where strict censorship, rising snobbery and plentiful cultural imports from Britain stifled the early efforts of nationalist, convict-born writers like himself. These contexts help to explain three distinctive aspects of Harpur’s Romantic tragedies: they were direct in an age when drama was often evasive, radical even in an age of revolution, and mystical in an age of increasing religious scepticism. Whatever his theatrical merits, Harpur was a bold playwright who worked through controversial political and aesthetic problems in a remarkably explicit way. Continue reading →
The personal writings of popular nineteenth-century poet Felicia Hemans indicate her desire to alleviate social constraints on women to improve their education, yet her poetry’s female figures often seem overly attached to domesticity or lacking in emotional fortitude. This paper addresses ways in which a study of early modern female writers of history can inform Hemans scholarship, particularly by drawing on Megan Matchinske’s work on the ‘dying-tale’ in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613). Similarly, Hemans promotes the necessity of women acting to ensure successful political and personal endurance in ‘The Switzer’s Tale’. Furthermore, in the pedagogy of Records of Woman (1828), Hemans responds to the problem of visual dominance in art by adopting a multi-sensory approach to communication that relies especially on the auditory. This strategy takes part in a broader epistemic approach to history that criticises the reliability of memory and the transience of human bodies. Ultimately, Hemans suggests that transcendence occurs through the exercise of the human will, the ultimate representation of which is martyrdom. Continue reading →
In the wake of a personal scandal that Horace Walpole dubbed ‘The Gunninghiad’, Susannah Gunning returned to literary writing after some years’ absence from the scene. The two works she published with William Lane’s Minerva Press in 1792, Anecdotes of the Delborough Family and Virginius and Virginia. A Poem, in Six Parts. From the Roman History, demonstrate both Gunning’s artistic range and Lane’s marketing genius. Together, Gunning and Lane capitalised on the Gunninghiad scandal in an attempt to rehabilitate Gunning’s reputation as a writer and fill the coffers of the press. This article re-examines Gunning’s undervalued literary career to argue that publishing with Lane afforded her opportunities to rewrite the scandal of which she’d been a part, experiment with literary genres she had yet to explore, and profit from what she lived and wrote. 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 →
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