Romantic Circles Blog

Collection of 18th and early 19th c. novels newly catalogued at New York Society Library

The New York Society Library has recently completed the online cataloging of its Hammond Collection: 1,152 novels, plays, poetry, and other works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Originally part of a New England lending library, these volumes date from 1720 to 1847 (bulk dates 1770-1820) and reflect the popular reading interests of those years, including Gothic novels, romances, epistolary fiction, musical comedies, and other genres. A number of these books are quite scarce; in a few cases, the NYSL holds the only known extant copy.

To browse these books as a group in the Library’s catalog:, search by author for “James Hammond’s Circulating Library.”

The New York Society Library is a membership library in New York City, founded in 1754. For more information, please visit their Website:

Our special collections are accessible to members and non-members alike. We invite interested researchers to contact us at rare[underscore]books[at]nysoclib[dot]org.

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Two New Editions from Tim Fulford @ RC

Romantic Circles is pleased to announce the following new resources, along with a substantive update to an existing resource.

Robert Bloomfield, The Banks of Wye. An edition of Bloomfield's multimedia picturesque tour of the Wye valley. Poem, tour journal, sketchbook. Ed. Tim Fulford.

This edition presents a rare surviving example of the kind of multimedia production that arose from one of the new cultural activities of the late eighteenth century—the picturesque and antiquarian tour. It comprises a facsimile of the manuscript sketch- and scrap-book that Robert Bloomfield made after his 1807 tour of the Wye, an annotated transcription of the prose tour-journal that he incorporated into his scrap book, and a collated and annotated text of the poetic versions of the tour that were published (as The Banks of Wye) in 1811, 1813, and 1823. Also included are reproductions of the engravings that illustrated the 1811 and 1813 publications, deleted or unadopted passages from the manuscript of the poem, and a selection of reviews from journals of the time. The whole represents a visually and verbally rich response to the fashionable tour of the Wye. Bloomfield’s manuscript sketch- and scrap-book is an example of the newly popular fashion for on-the-spot sketching. Full of self-penned images of views and ruins, it is a fine example of the visual culture that the English gentry began to produce and to value, a homemade book to pass around in drawing rooms before turning either to the latest set of picturesque engravings or to the poetic tour —The Banks of Wye — that Bloomfield himself issued in print. Bloomfield, indeed, hoped to issue not just the poetic tour but also the ‘whole triple-page’d Journal, Drawings, prose, and rhime’. Cost prohibited such a publication at the time: only now, with this composite edition of poem, prose, scrap- and sketch-book, can we see the multimedia response to the Wye that was then accessible only to the intimate friends among whom the manuscript circulated.


Robert Southey and Millenarianism: Documents Concerning the Prophetic Movements of the Romantic Era. Ed. Tim Fulford.

This website presents the first scholarly edition of Robert Southey’s various writings about the prophetic movements of Romantic-era Britain. Its aim is to throw new light on two related areas: the nature and history of millenarian prophecy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries—especially William Bryan, Richard Brothers, and Joanna Southcott—, and the significance of prophecy in Southey’s social, political analysis of his times. A fascinated commentator upon what he termed ‘enthusiasm’, Southey published two of the earliest accounts of Southcott and her predecessors ever written, accounts derived both from personal acquaintance with some of the major figures involved and from a detailed study of their writings. These accounts are reproduced here, collated with the manuscripts on which they were based, and with explanatory notes. In addition, a selection of Southey’s remarks on millenarians in his private manuscript correspondence is presented, and an introduction comprising a brief history of the prophetic movements in the Romantic era and a critical discussion of Southey’s writings on the subject.


The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and his Circle. Ed. Tim Fulford and Lynda Pratt The editors are delighted to announce an update to their edition of Bloomfield collected letters, comprising four previously unknown letters that throw new light on Bloomfield's relationship with his patron, Capel Lofft, and on the patronage of labouring-class poets in the early nineteenth century more generally. The letters also throw new light on periodical culture in the period and present an early draft of one of Bloomfield's popular songs.

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Spaces of Work and Knowledge in The Long Eighteenth Century

Abstracts are invited for proposed submissions for publication in a forthcoming collection of essays based on the proceedings of the Spaces of Work 1770-1830 conference held at the University of Warwick April 2012. The publication will follow the broad themes of the conference, but is expanded to include articles focusing on any time within the Long Eighteenth Century, and beyond being focused on Britain to include all geographical locations. Further, the overall headings of ‘space’ and ‘work’ are to be examined in relation to forms of knowledge, broadly conceived.

We are particularly interested in interrogating under-analyzed types of work and space. For example, we hope to develop the theorization of types of work that critics have not conventionally understood as ‘work’ (the performance of music as practical activity, for instance). We also aim to bring attention to under-analysed spaces. For example, due to Romanticism’s traditionally rural focus, literary critics of this period have only recently begun to interrogate urban spaces; interdisciplinary discussion of urbanism in this period would therefore be particularly valuable.

In terms of knowledge, we are particularly interested in forms of knowledge often essentialized and therefore not understood as knowledge as such. The traditionally male knowledge of utilising a commanding voice and demeanour to assert a seemingly innate authority, for example; or the traditionally female knowledge of being able to correctly ascertain the freshness of produce. We aim to elucidate the complex nuances of the interfacing of work, space, and knowledge as three factors that fundamentally shape everyday life in order to gain a greater understanding of material life in the period.

Possible questions which articles might tackle could include:
• How do workers and their work uniquely shape space?
• How does space facilitate or hinder workers and their work?
• How is knowledge acquired, employed, or altered by types of work and working locations?
• How do the social relationships between workers and their supervisors/masters alter according to the work they are doing and the spaces in which they perform it? How does the knowledge encoded in levels of expertise affect the dynamic between supervisors and workers?
• How is knowledge encoded in gender, race, and/or class across working space?

Possible approaches could include, but are not limited to: genteel work and the city; the work of acquiring the necessary knowledge for genteel status; work in spaces of ‘leisure’ and the forms of knowledge encoded therein; work, knowledge, and (sub)urban domestic spaces; gendered working knowledge in the home; space and female accomplishment and the forms of knowledge encoded; working knowledge in relation to emergent manufacturing/industrial spaces.

Pickering & Chatto have expressed an interest in publishing the collection. The exact word length may change, but we expect articles will be approximately 8000 words in length.

Abstracts for proposed articles should be 500 words in length, and be submitted no later than 15 September 2012. Please send abstracts to spacesofwork [at] gmail [dot] com

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Shelley's Ghost: UK and US Shelley materials at the NYPL through June

Shelley's Ghost

As seen at Frankensteinia and elsewhere, the New York Public Library is hosting what looks to be a fantastic exhibition of Shelley circle materials, many on loan from the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. The exhibit runs through Sunday, June 24, 2012.

According to the exhibition page, items on display include:

Selections from the manuscript of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.
Godwin’s Diary, digitally published with annotations in July 2010
Correspondence between William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft
The Esdaile Notebook containing P.B. Shelley's youthful work (Pforzheimer)
Shelley's gold and coral baby rattle
The only known letter from Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont's daughter Allegra, who died at 5.
A necklace owned by the Shelley family with locks (lockets) of P.B. and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's hair
Shelley’s first wife, Harriet Westbrook’s engagement ring and her last letter before committing suicide
Percy Shelley’s copy of his first major poem “Queen Mab,” complete with his notes and annotations. The poem was politically-charged, discussing the evils of eating meat and religion, amongst other things. Shelley actually pulled the poem from distribution after it was published, and it was only widely disseminated after his death.

There's more at the NYPL's site for the exhibition.

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New @ RC Editions: Norse Romanticism: Themes in British Literature, 1760–1830

Norse Romanticism

Norse Romanticism: Themes in British Literature, 1760–1830 is a collection of texts that illustrate how the ancient North was re-created for contemporary national, political and literary purposes. The anthology features canonical authors (such as Thomas Gray, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, Walter Scott, and Ann Radcliffe). Standard editions of these authors’ works generally lack the contextual framework and necessary commentary that explain the way in which they repurpose Norse material. There are also more unusual selections of lesser known writers, whose texts have not previously been available to modern readers. The range of material presented in the edition has the scope and breadth to allow for new research into the Norse-inflected writing during the period.

The anthology shows how a number of writers utilized the Norse tradition to address issues of political and cultural concern, as well as find new aesthetic models for their poetry. Importantly, the interest in Norse literature and mythology came at a time when the need to recover ancient literary heritage came under tremendous pressure. Before the discovery of Beowulf (and the realization of its importance), the Norse past was taken up in an attempt to substitute for a missing Anglo-Saxon tradition. In England, the need for Anglo-Saxon heroic verse was given an increased sense of urgency as Celtic antiquaries began to publish heroic traditions associated with Wales, Ireland and not least Ossian’s Scotland. The Norse material also appealed to romantic-era writers for its ideals of Liberty, while the dark Norse imagination was exploited as a vehicle for the creation of Gothic terror. Therefore, the anthology contains texts that will be of relevance to researchers and students pursuing a number of different projects.

The introduction, headnotes and extensive annotations place the texts in relation to their original Norse sources. The extensive editorial matter also discusses the perception of the Norse Middle Ages, as these were shaped by sometimes fanciful antiquarian and romanticizing discourses in the period. The electronic edition is a unique resource that makes it easy to compare and search for the characters, themes and ideas that were central to the Norse revival in English letters.

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New @ RC Praxis: Romanticism, Forgery and the Credit Crunch

Romanticism, Forgery, and the Credit Crunch

Romantic Circles is pleased to announce a new volume in the Praxis series (series editor, Orrin Wang), Romanticism, Forgery, and the Credit Crunch, edited by Ian Haywood:


This Praxis volume looks at the impact on Romantic print culture of the suspension of cash payments in 1797 and the subsequent rise in prosecutions (and executions) for forgery. The four essays cover mainstream novelists (Austen, Scott) as well as radical journalists (Cobbett, Hone) and caricaturists (Gillray, Cruikshank). Ian Haywood edits and contributes to the volume, along with Robert Miles, Alex Benchimol, Alex J. Dick, and Nick Groom. The aim of the collection is to explore the Romantic credit crisis of 1797-1821. The decision to end cash payments and flood the economy with low denominational banknotes led to a spectacular increase in executions for banknote forgery. Many Romantic writers saw this bloody debacle as a sensational illustration of the dangers of an economic system based on mere "paper" value. While some critical attention has been given to the cultural history of credit (Brantlinger, Poovey), the issue of forgery has been overlooked. Yet, as the essays in this volume show, the impact of the credit crisis and its thousands of victims affected literature, journalism and art in often profound ways.

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CFP: Romantic Voyagers - Voyaging Romantics

Wellington, New Zealand, 29-30 September 2012

Announcing a two-day International Conference, hosted by the School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies,  Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Click here for the complete flyer.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on all aspects of Romantic voyaging, the period, its context and  its authors. Papers which address the larger issues of ‘voyaging’ will be welcome too. The conference will  include an opportunity to admire some of the treasures of the Rare Book collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library. There will also be time to explore the bracing sea-front and beautiful streets of Wellington with its  numerous restaurants and bars, and to ascend via the famous cable car to the Botanical Gardens.

The keynote speakers are:

Dr Ruth Lightbourne (Alexander Turnbull Library)
Professor Vincent O’Sullivan, DCNZM
Professor Nicholas Roe (St Andrews University, Scotland)

250 word proposals for papers of no more than 2750 words  together with a brief c.v. should occupy no more than 2 sides of  A4 in a Word document (they will be copied into a composite file).  Please do not send as a pdf. E-mail to the Conference Organizer Heidi Thomson heidi (dot) thomson (at) by 1 April 2012. All other enquiries should also be e-mailed to this address.

The Charles Brown Bursary of NZ $550 will be available to enable one unfunded postgraduate scholar working in the field of Romantic Literature (currently enrolled at either MA or PhD level) to travel to and deliver a paper at this conference. Please bring this announcement to the attention of qualified applicants.

Registration and website details are to follow.

Delegates need to arrange their own accommodation. There are a large number of Hotels and B&Bs in Wellington. Hotels within walking distance of the conference venue include: Novotel, Rydges, Intercontinental, Ibis, Bolton, Kingsgate Hotel

The following website is useful for arranging accommodation:

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New @ RC Praxis: Romanticism and Disaster

Romanticism and Disaster

Romantic Circles is delighted to announce the publication of a new volume in our Praxis series, Romanticism and Disaster, co-edited by Jacques Khalip and David Collings.

In essays by Scott Juengel, William Keach, Timothy Morton, and Rei Terada, this volume considers and responds to the timely concept of devastated life by addressing how the capacity to read, interpret, and absorb disaster necessitates significant changes in theory, ethics, and common life. What if the consequences or “experience” of a disaster were less about psychic survival than an unblinking desire to face down the disaster as a challenge to normative structures?

As a whole, Romanticism and Disaster attends to the rhetorical, epistemological, political, and social effects of Romantic critique, and reflects on how processes of destruction and reconstitution, ruination and survival, are part and parcel of Romanticism’s grappling with a negativity that haunts its corners. Put in this way, “disaster” does not signal a referential event, but rather an undoing of certain apparently prior categories of dwelling, and forces us to contemplate living otherwise. In confronting the end of things, what are the conditions or possibilities of existence amidst catastrophe? What is a crisis, and what kinds of challenges does it occasion? What can be philosophically gained or lost by analyzing disaster in its multiple sites, contexts, and instances?

Romanticism and Disaster can be found here.

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New @ RC Praxis: Robert Bloomfield: The Inestimable Blessing of Letters

Romantic Circles is very pleased to announce a new volume in the Romantic Circles Praxis series, Robert Bloomfield: The Inestimable Blessing of Letters, edited by John Goodridge and Bridget Keegan.

Robert Bloomfield's letters document one artist’s struggles (and sometimes his victories) to share his unique voice and vision; the online publication of his extant letters (a companion to this collection of essays) reveals new and exciting insights into Bloomfield the artist and the man.The essays included in this Praxis volume highlight and draw attention to aspects of Bloomfield's literary production that would likely not be possible without the full access to his letters that the edition provides, and make a strong case for why Bloomfield continues to be worthy of study.They suggest how much more remains to be said about this prolific poet.

This volume makes use of the previously published edition at Romantic Circles, The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and His Circle, edited by Tim Fulford and Lynda Pratt. This edition of Bloomfield''s Collected Letters constitutes every known letter by Bloomfield himself, plus a selection of the letters sent to him by literary correspondents and those exchanged between members of his circle.

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