Thoughts in Prison

Written while he was awaiting execution for forgery in his Newgate prison cell, William Dodd's long poem Thoughts in Prison (1777) is unique among prison writings and in the history of English literature: none of the many reflections, stories, essays, ballads, and broadside "Confessions" originating—or purporting to have originated—in a jail cell over the last few hundred years can begin to match it in length, in the irony of its author's notoriety, or in the completeness of its erasure from history after a meteoric career in print that began to wane only at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Thoughts in Prison

October, 2010
Romantic Circles is pleased to announce the publication of William Dodd's long poem Thoughts in Prison (1777). Written while he was awaiting execution for forgery in his Newgate prison cell, the poem is unique among prison writings and in the history of English literature: none of the many reflections, stories, essays, ballads, and broadside "Confessions" originating—or purporting to have originated—in a jail cell over the last few hundred years can begin to match it in length, in the irony of its author's notoriety, or in the completeness of its erasure from history after a meteoric career in print that began to wane only at the turn of the nineteenth century.

An appendix presents manuscript versions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "This Lime-Tree Bower, my Prison," by way of suggesting a reliance, at least metaphorically, on this major work of prison literature by Romantic writers.

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