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The Romantic Poetry Handbook

This comprehensive survey of British Romantic poetry explores the work of six poets whose names are most closely associated with the Romantic era – Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Byron, and Shelley – as well as works by other significant but less widely studied poets such as Leigh Hunt, Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, and Letitia Elizabeth Landon. Along with its exceptional coverage, the volume is alert to relevant contexts, and opens up ways of understanding Romantic poetry.

The Romantic Poetry Handbook encompasses the entire breadth of the Romantic Movement, from Anna Laetitia Barbauld to Thomas Lovell Beddoes and John Clare. In its central section ‘Readings’ it explores tensions, change, and continuity within the Romantic Movement, and examines a wide range of individual poems and poets through sensitive, attentive, and accessible analyses. In addition, the authors provide a full introduction, a detailed historical and cultural timeline, biographies of the poets whose works are featured, and a helpful guide to further reading.

The Romantic Poetry Handbook is an ideal text for undergraduate and postgraduate students of British Romantic poetry. It will also appeal to those with a general interest in poetry and Romantic literature.

Michael O’Neill, is Professor of English at Durham University, UK. He has published widely on many aspects of Romantic literature, especially the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Victorian poetry, and an array of British, Irish, and American twentieth- and twenty-first-century poets. His most recent book is, as editor, John Keats in Context (2017). He has also published three volumes of poetry.

Madeleine Callaghan, is Lecturer in Romantic Literature at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is co-editor of Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon (2011), Assistant Editor of The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley (2012), and author of Shelley’s Living Artistry: Letters, Poems, Plays (2017).

Wiley Blackwell Literature Handbooks

This new series offers the student thorough and lively introductions to literary periods, movements, and, in some instances, authors and genres, from Anglo‐Saxon to the Postmodern. Each volume is written by a leading specialist to be invitingly accessible and informative. Chapters are devoted to the coverage of cultural context, the provision of brief but detailed biographical essays on the authors concerned, critical coverage of key works, and surveys of themes and topics, together with bibliographies of selected further reading. Students new to a period of study or to a period genre will discover all they need to know to orientate and ground themselves in their studies, in volumes that are as stimulating to read as they are convenient to use.


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The Romantic Poetry Handbook


Michael O’Neill


Madeleine Callaghan















The authors would like to thank all those at Wiley Blackwell who have made this book possible. The book is a joint venture, with each author taking primary responsibility for different sections. Michael O’Neill has taken primary responsibility for the volume’s overall design, and has written the introduction and the sections on Beddoes, Blake, Burns, Clare, Hunt, Moore, Robinson, Southey, and Wordsworth (with the exception of the section on Lyrical Ballads). He has also written the sections on Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan, Coleridge’s conversation poems, the final section on Keats (his 1820 volume), and the section on Shelley’s Queen Mab, Alastor, and Laon and Cythna. Madeleine Callaghan has drawn up the timeline, written the biographies, taken principal responsibility for preparing the further reading, and written the remaining sections on Byron, Coleridge, Keats and Shelley, and the sections on Barbauld, Hemans, Landon, Lyrical Ballads, Smith, and Yearsley. The authors are grateful to the Universities of Durham and Sheffield for help of various kinds, and would like particularly to acknowledge the intellectual stimulus and collegiality provided by Anna Barton, Adam Piette, Stephen Regan, Mark Sandy, Sarah Wootton, and Angela Wright. They are also grateful to the readers of their original proposal and of the final manuscript for many valuable suggestions. As will be evident from the text, notes, and further reading, they are indebted to the work of many critics and scholars who have shaped their understanding of the poetry of the period. Michael O’Neill is especially grateful to Duncan Wu for showing him advance proofs of the latter’s brilliantly thought‐provoking 30 Great Myths about the Romantics (Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2015). For assistance with the index, the authors are grateful to Sharon Tai.