The article examines the print history of Robert Southey and S. T. Coleridge’s co-written but anonymously published ‘The Devil’s Thoughts’ (1799). Over more than three decades, the ballad was transcribed, reprinted, and imitated. Most notably, an illustrated edition of 1830—erroneously ascribed to the classical scholar Richard Porson—enjoyed much popularity in the market for print, allegedly selling fifteen-thousand copies. The satirical poem aims its barbs at lucrative but immoral professions (lawyers, apothecaries, and booksellers), but government policies on prisons and support for war with France are also criticised. The article aims to discuss the poetical and political reasons why the two poets were reluctant to acknowledge the authorship of the satire. Examining the ballad’s various reproductions provides an illuminating case study of how nineteenth-century print culture could exploit popular texts that were placed in the public domain. The discussion will be divided into three sections. The first section will examine the poem’s genesis and unpack its most significant allusions in the context of contemporary print satire. The second section will document the reproduction trajectory of a Romantic-period poem that was dispossessed for most of its popular lifespan. The final section will critically examine how entrepreneurs in the book market cashed in on the popularity of the illustrated version (1830) by publishing several derivative compositions in hasty succession. Continue reading →
This article is the first to focus upon Helen Monteagle (1818), a novel written by Alicia LeFanu and the second of six works of fiction she is known to have published between 1816 and 1826. In part an act of recovery, the article explores Helen Monteagle’s significance to understandings of the development of prose fiction in the romantic period, and situates the novel in relation to the traditions and innovations of satirical writing in particular. Tracing the various acts of conformity and resistance displayed by its female protagonists, the article identifies in the novel a corresponding interest in the terms of women’s professional practice as performers and authors in a year which also saw publication of Shelley’s Frankenstein and Austen’s Northanger Abbey. LeFanu’s novel, the article argues, reflects upon the author/creator and her audience, and articulates a commentary upon the adequacy of conventional narrative frameworks in the context of market competition and anxieties about the integrity of contemporary literary culture. The novel’s innovative and allusive approach to plot and character are examined in relation to LeFanu’s third novel of 1819, entitled Leolin Abbey. In its discussion of the various personal, professional and commercial imperatives which informed LeFanu’s career as a writer, the article reflects upon the broader context of women’s writing in this period and aims to enhance an appreciation of its diversity. 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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