Album Verses and Romantic Literary Culture: Poetry, Manuscript, Print, 1780-1850

ISBN : 9780198857945

Samantha Matthews
304 ページ
156 x 234 mm

'Will you write in my album?' Many Romantic poets were asked this question by women who collected contributions in their manuscript books. Those who obliged included Byron, Scott, Wordsworth, and Lamb, but also Felicia Hemans, Amelia Opie, and Sara Coleridge. Album Verses and Romantic Literary Culture presents the first critical and cultural history of this forgotten phenomenon. It asks a series of questions. Where did 1820s 'albo-mania' come from, and why was it satirized as a women's 'mania'? What was the relation between visitors' books associated with great institutions and country houses, personal albums belonging to individuals, and the poetry written in both? What caused albums' re-gendering from earlier friendship books kept by male students and gentlemen on the Grand Tour to a 'feminized' practice identified mainly with young women? When albums were central to women's culture, why were so many published album poems by men? How did amateur and professional poets engage differently with albums? What does album culture's privileging of 'original poetry' have to say about attitudes towards creativity and poetic practice in the age of print? This volume recovers a distinctive subgenre of occasional poetry composed to be read in manuscript, with its own characteristic formal features, conventions, themes, and cultural significance. Unique albums examined include that kept at the Grande Chartreuse, those owned by Regency socialite Lady Sarah Jersey, and those kept by Lake poets' daughters. As Album Verses and Romantic Literary Culture shows, album poetry reflects changing attitudes to identity, gender, class, politics, poetry, family dynamics, and social relations in the Romantic period.


1 From 'La Grande Chartreuse' to The British Album: Sublimity, Satire, and Early Album Poetics
2 Manuscript, Print, Patronage, and Place: Reconstructing the 'Cossey Hall' Album
3 'Like Her, Fair Book, be thou': Lady Jersey and Album Culture
4 Albo-mania, Albo-phobia: Satire, Gender, and Album Verses in 1820s Print Culture
5 What's in a Name? Kindness to Strangers in Charles Lamb's Album Poetry and Poetics
6 'Here you may trace a pigmy hand, / And there a Giant strength': Daughters, Poet-fathers, and the Wordsworth Circle Albums


Samantha Matthews is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Bristol. She has wide-ranging interdisciplinary research interests in the literary, visual, and material culture of the long nineteenth century (c. 1780-1920). Her first book, Poetical Remains: Poets' Graves, Bodies, and Books in the Nineteenth Century (OUP, 2004), considered the productive relations between dead poets and their literal and literary 'remains.' She has a long-standing interest in book history and manuscript culture, particularly the creative possibilities of blank books. She is editing Charles Lamb's poetry for Oxford's new Complete Works of Charles and Mary Lamb.