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Stephen Copley Research Report: Val Derbyshire on James Northcote

Val Derbyshire has completed this research report following a recent trip to archives in London. She was funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

 

James Northcote: The Man Who Exists Only in Fragments

by Val Derbyshire (University of Sheffield)

 

This year, I was fortunate enough to win the Stephen Copley Research Award from BARS.  This generous award provided the funding to visit the Royal Academy of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, both of whom hold personal letters and papers belonging to the portrait painter James Northcote (1746-1831).  I’ve written about Northcote’s work before, and am particularly interested in how this often overlooked portrait painter sits at the centre of a number of celebrated figures from Romanticism.

 

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, on the very sunny day on which I visited to look at Northcote’s personal papers and letters held here.

 

My PhD thesis explores Charlotte Smith’s connection with Northcote.  My research has shown that both Northcote and Smith utilise similar techniques in portraying their male heroes.  Northcote was a painter who portrayed far more men than women and both Smith and Northcote adapt the tropes traditionally associated with the aesthetic of the beautiful in the portrayal of their male ‘heroes’.  This undermines the conventional view that the sublime is a male trait, whilst the beautiful belongs to the feminine sphere.  By considering the male portraits of Northcote and Smith in tandem, it becomes possible to see how both artists engage with an abstract concept in order to reveal that it is a conceit which is utterly flawed.  This, in turn, leads to questions and uncertainties concerning masculine identity which Smith emphasises within her novels, just as Northcote similarly raises these concerns within his artworks. Over the past few months I have been visiting archival holdings to look at the personal correspondence of James Northcote.   These visits have thrown up some interesting findings, including the fact that he had a close relationship with William Godwin (close enough to leave him £100 in his will) and he also corresponded regularly with other literary figures like Elizabeth Inchbald.  Northcote’s notebook held by the Bodleian Library includes fifteen letters from Inchbald to Northcote and their mutual friends.  These letters include charming details such as how Northcote called for Inchbald one evening in order to take her to ‘Mrs Wedells rout.’  Unfortunately, as Northcote was not expected, Inchbald had already put on her nightgown and was ready for bed, but was then crippled by guilt at refusing to see Northcote, if only to ‘load [him] with reproaches.’[1]

It is known that Smith and Northcote were friends.  He was included within an invitation to take tea at Smith’s home which was addressed to William Godwin dated 27 February 1800: ‘Will you dine with me some day next week if I can assemble Mr & Mrs Fenwick, Mr Northcote, Mr Coleridge, & one or two friends – who would not spoil the party.’[2]  The party took place on 4th March 1800, when Godwin noted in his diary ‘tea C Smith’s w. Coleridge, Northcote, Fenwicks & Duncans.’[3]  By visiting these archival holdings of Northcote’s personal letters and papers, I hoped to find further evidence of his friendship with Smith (more letters perhaps?)  Unfortunately, however, there were no letters either from Smith to Northcote or vice versa.  What I did gain, nevertheless, was a fascinating insight into the man Mark Ledbury describes as ‘mostly a curiosity […] enmeshed with many others’ and hampered by the ‘widespread and persistent belief that Northcote was simply not an interesting enough painter to merit close critical scrutiny.’[4]  ‘It is unfair,’ as Ledbury argues, ‘to liken Northcote to the subject of his satirical fable ‘The Painter Who Pleased Nobody’ (see figure 2), but rather he was ‘the painter who pleased nobody enough.’[5]

 

James Northcote, ‘Illustration to accompany “The Painter Who Pleased Nobody”’ in James Northcote, Fables Original and Selected (London: John Murray, 1838), pp. 216-7.

 

My visits to the Royal Academy of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum helped me to construct a more rounded picture of Northcote.  The letters held by the Royal Academy are for the most part addressed to his beloved brother Samuel, and detail the period in time when Northcote left home, much against the advice of his parents.  Northcote headed to London to learn his craft, to seek his fortune as an artist, and ‘follow an amusement which is to me beyond every other upon Earth.’[6] Shortly after his arrival in London, Northcote would take up residence with the founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Art, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and spend his time perfecting his artistry in copying Reynolds’s own art collection and painting the drapery and hands in Reynolds’s masterpieces.  The letters progress through Northcote’s apprenticeship with Reynolds to the point when he leaves him in order to complete his training abroad by taking an Italian tour, providing details of this tour and the friendships he forms during this.  By the time Northcote left Reynolds, he writes ‘I know him thoroughly and all his faults, I am sure, and yet I allmost Worship him.’[7]  This ‘worship’ was to persist throughout Northcote’s long life.  In his will, held at the British Library in London, he desires that ‘my mortal remains […] shall be deposited […] as near as possibly may be to the remains of my late lamented Friend and Master Sir Joshua Reynolds.’[8]

 

Detail from James Northcote, Letter to Samuel Northcote dated 3rd January 1776, NOR/15, Royal Academy of Art.

 

The notebook of letters and personal papers held by the Victoria and Albert Museum were much more diverse in nature.  They included letters relating to Northcote’s business as a successful portrait painter, as well as personal epistles from William Godwin and William Cowper, and details of his friendship with fellow artist (and also friend to Charlotte Smith), John Raphael Smith (1751-1812).

All in all, despite not finding any letters between Smith and Northcote, the research trip was very successful.  It provided me with a clearer picture of the man who ‘exists in fragments,’ as Ledbury terms it, and whilst only a few items will contribute to my doctoral research, the trip has given me food for thought for future research projects.[9]   I would like to thank BARS for their generous award of the Stephen Copley Research prize which has made all this possible.

 

[1] James Northcote, The Letter book of James Northcote (Oxford: Bodleian Libraries, MS Eng Misc e143).

[2] Cited in Pamela Clemit and Charlotte Smith, ‘Charlotte Smith to William and Mary Jane Godwin: Five Holograph Letters’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 55 (2006), 29-40 (39).  ‘Mr & Mrs. Fenwick, refers to Eliza Fenwick (1766-1840), author of Secresy, or the Ruin of the Rock (1795), and her husband.’

[3] Cited in Pamela Clemit and Charlotte Smith, ‘Charlotte Smith to William and Mary Jane Godwin: Five Holograph Letters’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 55 (2006), 29-40 (39).  (Clemit notes that ‘the Duncans have not been further identified.’ (p. 39).

[4]Mark Ledbury, James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables (New Haven & London: Yale Center for British Art, 2014), pp. 1-2.

[5] Ledbury, James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables, pp. 1-2, emphasis in original.

[6] James Northcote, Letter to Samuel Northcote dated 25th June 1771, NOR/1, Royal Academy of Art.

[7] James Northcote, Letter to Samuel Northcote dated 3rd January 1776, NOR/15, Royal Academy of Art [Sic].

[8] James Northcote, ‘Last Will and Testament of James Northcote’ in The Papers of James Northcote, holding number 42524, British Library, London.

[9] Ledbury, James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables, p. 1.

Stephen Copley Award Report: Eleanor Bryan, The British Library

A report from Eleanor Bryan (PhD candidate, University of Lincoln) who was awarded a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

See the full list of 2018 winners here.

 

Eleanor Bryan – Stephen Copley Award Report

The Stephen Copley Award funded my visit to the British Library Doctoral Open day on Monday 19th March. The purpose of the open day was to acquaint new PhD students with the variety of resources that the British Library offers, and to explain the best ways of using its services and navigating its collections, both physically and online. This particular open day took an interdisciplinary approach to the British Library’s nineteenth-century collections and, as such, provided a holistic overview of a plethora of potential resources. Presentations were given by a host of librarians, all with different areas of expertise, who provided information on the nineteenth-century printed collections, modern archives, and manuscript collections.

My research focuses on dramatic adaptations of Gothic novels, namely Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I was therefore particularly interested in the British Ephemera collections, which include playbills, prints, and drawings. The other doctoral students and I were able to peruse some of the historical manuscripts. We were shown a variety of eclectic ephemera and librarians demonstrated how to find specific items and then subsequently source other more obscure items that may be connected but not the result of an initial search.

My day at the British Library far exceeded my expectations, and I would recommend their Doctoral Open Days to anyone and everyone, regardless of discipline, who is in the first few months of their PhD. I now feel much more confident in my own skills as a researcher and feel more equipped to seek out relevant material that will be of use to me. I am therefore extremely grateful to the BARS Stephen Copley Award for funding my visit as it will prove to be of great value to my thesis.

Stephen Copley Research Awards 2018 – the winners

The BARS Executive Committee has established these bursaries in order to support postgraduate and early-career research within the UK. They are intended to help fund expenses incurred through travel to libraries and archives necessary to the student’s research. As anticipated, this year we received a large number of applications, many of which were of a very high quality indeed. Please do join us in congratulating the very worthy winners. Romanticism is alive and kicking, we’re pleased to say!

  • Eleanor Bryan (University of Lincoln)
  • Mary Chadwick (University of Huddersfield)
  • Lauren Christie (University of Dundee)
  • Octavia Cox (University of Oxford)
  • Valerie Derbyshire (University of Sheffield)
  • Eva-Charlotta Mebius (University College London)
  • Hannah Moss (University of Sheffield)
  • Harrie Neal (University of York)
  • Emma Probett (University of Leicester)
  • Lieke van Deinsen (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Once they have completed their research trips each winner will write a brief report on their projects. These will be published on the website and circulated through our social media. For more information about the bursaries, including reports from past winners, please visit our website.

– Daniel Cook
Bursaries Officer, BARS
University of Dundee

Stephen Copley Research Report: The Lewis Walpole Library

The following report details research by Lauren Nixon, who visited the University of Yale supported by a BARS Stephen Copley Bursary.

Stephen Copley Research Award Report

Lauren Nixon: Researching Henry Seymour Conway at the Lewis Walpole Library

 

The Stephen Copley Research Award funded my visit to the Lewis Walpole Library, part of the University of Yale, which houses a large collection of materials relating to Horace Walpole (1717-1797) as well as an extensive array of rare books, prints and paintings. Thanks to the award I was able to spend a week in November 2017 studying the correspondence of Henry Seymour Conway (1721-1795), a cousin and friend of Horace Walpole and a British Army Officer who served during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). This research will form a part of my PhD thesis, ‘Conflicting Masculinities: The figure of the soldier in Gothic literature, 1764-1826’, and I hope to have the opportunity to present a snapshot of my findings at a conference this year.

Though significant critical work on exploring gender constructs within the early Gothic novel has been undertaken, very little has focused upon the military and the figure of the soldier. Yet the soldier, be it in the guise of an ancient knight, clansman or chevalier, appears frequently throughout the Gothic fiction of the period. My thesis analyses the ways in which Gothic writers employed the soldier and the military to redefine and reconsider masculinity, and charts shifting perceptions and presentations of the military in the eighteenth century.  As part of this research I am interested in the state of the military and social perception of the soldier during and in the aftermath of the Seven Years War, a conflict which Britain emerged victorious but which would have drastic lasting financial strains. Despite being heralded as heroes during the Seven Years War, the years after saw the private soldier turned loose without pay. Left to poverty and vagrancy, the British soldier of the 1770’s and 1780’s was far from a champion of national vigour and virtue – that is, until the renewed threat of conflict with France after the French Revolution.

In addition to the Gothic novels of authors such as Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Regina Maria Roche and Mary Shelley, my research also incorporates a number of primary materials such as songs, pamphlets and speeches. During my week in the Lewis Walpole Library, I was able to further this study by analysing Henry Seymour Conway’s correspondence with his brother Francis Seymour Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford (1718-1794) and three books of his military correspondence charting his service in Europe during the Seven Years War. This not only provided enlightening and intriguing insights into the military profession and the notion of the soldier’s duty during the eighteenth century from unpublished, understudied texts, but also indicated a crucial connection to the Gothic. Walpole and Conway were not just cousins, but close friends and frequent correspondents. In 1764, when Conway was abruptly dismissed from both parliament and his military command after speaking out against the Government on the John Wilkes controversy, Walpole supported Conway both financially and publically. As the Castle of Otranto was published later that same year, I believe there is an argument to be made for Conway’s identity as a soldier and his belief in the soldier’s chivalric masculinity influenced the novel. This is an avenue I had not previously considered, but now aim to pursue in the future.

I am extremely grateful to BARS for granting me the Stephen Copley Research Award, as without it I would not have been able to make the trip. The research I undertook at the Lewis Walpole Library was of great value to my thesis, but also to my development as a researcher. The library itself, located in the town of Farmington, Connecticut (about forty minutes drive from Yale University), has a varied and fascinating collection, including their current exhibition Global Encounters and the Archives: Great Britain’s Empire in the Age of Horace Walpole. 

– Lauren Nixon

David Hume and the National Library of Scotland: Copley Report

See below for a report from Rebecca Davies (NTNU, Trondheim, Norway). Rebecca was awarded a BARS Stephen Copley Research Award, and she explains her subsequent research activity here.

Rebecca Davies – Stephen Copley Award Report

I used the award to visit to the National Library of Scotland’s special collections to begin what will eventually be an extensive examination of the letters of David Hume, as part of a broader consideration of his epistemology. This research will be incorporated into my current project on the treatment of ‘genius’ and precocity – or ingenia proecocia – in educational writing of the long eighteenth century. I am interested in how Hume – in his unguarded moments where he is not consciously the philosopher – represents human ‘powers and faculties’, and the nature of knowledge, relative to both childhood education and knowledge acquisition into adulthood. The work carried out in the NLS informs a chapter exploring the treatment of genius, learning and cognition in Enlightenment epistemology, to reassess and relocate Romantic conceptions of creative genius. As Paul Bruno has observed, Hume does not explicitly comment upon genius in the sense of originality and untutored talent in his published works. Consequently, my key focus for this research was whether he engages with the subject, even obliquely, in his private writings, through discussions of reading, education and knowledge acquisition. I was also interested in his conception of education more broadly.

Although, unsurprisingly, the archives did not reveal any letters on the topic that have not been already published by Grieg, it was nevertheless useful to view the contents in an unmediated form, to trace themes of study, intellect, and Hume’s perception of the physical effects of thought and education without an overt chronological and biographical focus. The letters provided some diverse and interesting commentaries regarding Hume’s own education and attitude to knowledge and learning. Although well known, some key examples of this focus on knowledge and learning appear in the famous ‘Letter to an Anonymous Physician’ – where he notes the necessity of forgetting the reasoning of the ancients in order to come to a better understanding of the ‘truth’ – and his discussion of Rousseau’s unlearned ‘genius’, before their infamous feud. The most useful letters for my purpose were more esoteric, such as those addressed to his friend Baron Mure, written in the 1760s, reporting on the suspect pedagogy of the teacher Graffigni at the school Mure’s young sons were attending. Hume is singularly unimpressed by Graffigni’s ‘novel’ methods of teaching Latin, which he claims will not advance the understanding of the young people. In comparison, his letters to and from his nephew’s tutor, Mr Blacklock, demonstrate a harmonious agreement regarding the ideal methods for knowledge acquisition. These letters will form the basis of an examination of the practical application of epistemological theory in pedagogy, specifically relative to notions of ability and understanding in the pupils.

The generosity of the award enabled me to look at MS23151-23153 over the course of five days, and establish the usefulness of investigating this resource further.

Copley Report: James Beattie by R. J. W. Mills

Please see below for Robin Mills’ report on their 2017 research funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

Stephen Copley Award 2017 Recipient Report – R. J. W. Mills

I am very grateful to have been a recipient of one of the British Association for Romantic Studies’ Stephen Copley Awards for 2017. The funds given to me paid for two research trips to archives in Scotland: one to the University of Aberdeen in April 2017 and one to Edinburgh University in June 2017. During both I conducted research on the extensive manuscript collections relating to the poet and philosopher James Beattie (1735–1803) as part of my ongoing research project to write the first modern scholarly biography of Beattie. The research undertaken has enabled me to flesh out further Beattie’s literary and philosophical activities during the 1760s and early 1770s. As a result, I am hoping to soon make the case that some of the philosophical and poetical writings that emerged out of 1760s Aberdeen was of a very different quality to the ‘philosophy of the human mind’ usually associated with the Aberdeen Enlightenment.

Exploration of the Beattie correspondence in Aberdeen has allowed me to deepen my understanding of the life and work of one of Beattie’s closest friends and philosophical allies, the Aberdeen and then Edinburgh physician and moralist John Gregory (1724–1773). Known to scholars as the author of the wildly popular A Father’s Legacy (1774) and to historians of science as one of the first medical ethicists, Gregory was also the author of another best-selling work, A Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man (1765), which combined Aberdeen’s famous common sense philosophy with the language of sensibility. My research in Aberdeen has developed the burgeoning picture I have of Gregory as an energetic and pessimistic social commentator who was worried about the effects of luxury and modern sceptical philosophy on the morals of eighteenth-century Britain. Despite Gregory’s status as one of the most important and prominent moralists of his age, there has been little archival work done on his correspondence. What has emerged from my activities in Aberdeen is a picture of Gregory, newly installed in Edinburgh, deeply angered by the ambivalence and complacency with which the Edinburgh literati indulged David Hume. Moreover, Gregory was critical of the failings of abstract rational theology to appeal to the multitude and warned that the development of Methodism was the inevitable consequence of an establishment theology that did not appeal to the heart and senses of the laity.

My work on Gregory will inform my exploration of his discussion of religion and scepticism in Comparative View in an upcoming monograph on the Scottish Enlightenment, but it also helps develop our understanding of James Beattie. The correspondence of the pair suggests that, while the Common Sense philosophy of Aberdeen is usually associated with the rigorous philosophy of Thomas Reid’s An Inquiry into the Human Mind (1764), there was developing within Aberdeen circles a strong belief that modern threats to religion and morals could only be overturned by an appeal to the heart. This has lead me on to other leads – the poetry of Thomas Blacklock, for example – suggesting that the language of heart-felt authenticity amongst many Scottish authors appeared as a direct consequence of Hume’s unnerving sceptical philosophy. This is helpful for me, in terms of my biography, to understand the philosophical and cultural networks in which Beattie was working. I also aim to publish something on this aspect of the Scottish Enlightenment, which has thus far been ignored.

My research on the Beattie papers has also result in an article, for submission to a Romanticism studies journal, about Beattie’s reading of the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I have found much evidence in both his papers (in Aberdeen) and correspondence (Aberdeen and Edinburgh) suggesting Beattie was an avid reader of Rousseau, and who both sympathetically identified with Rousseau and his psychological problems and utilised Rousseau’s writings when authoring his own. In particular, Beattie is closely reading Rousseau, and especially the Profession of Faith by the Savoyard Vicar in Emile, while he is composing both his Essay on Truth (1770) and his influential proto-Romantic poem The Minstrel (1771–1774).

Stephen Copley Research Awards 2017

Please see the notice below from Daniel Cook re. the winners of the Stephen Copley Research Awards 2017.

 

The BARS Executive Committee has established these bursaries in order to support postgraduate and early-career research within the UK. They are intended to help fund expenses incurred through travel to libraries and archives necessary to the student’s research. As anticipated, this year we received a large number of applications, many of which were of a very high quality indeed. Please do join us in congratulating the very worthy winners. Romanticism is alive and kicking, we’re pleased to say!

  • Alexander Abichou (Durham University)
  • Hadi Baghaei-Abchooyeh (Swansea University)
  • Marianne Brooker (Birkbeck College, London)
  • Rebecca Davies (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
  • Lucy Johnson (University of Chester)
  • Robin Mills (University College London)
  • Lauren Joy Nixon (Sheffield University)
  • Brianna E Robertson-Kirkland (University of Glasgow)
  • Paul Stephens (Lincoln College, Oxford)

Once they have completed their research trips each winner will write a brief report on their projects. These will be published on the website and circulated through our social media. For more information about the bursaries, including reports from past winners, please visit our website: www.bars.ac.uk.

 

Daniel Cook
Bursaries Officer, BARS
University of Dundee
d.p.cook@dundee.ac.uk

3 March 2017

Stephen Copley Award Report: Amy Boyington, The Gloucester Archives

The following report from Amy Boyington (University of Cambridge) describes her recent studies at the Gloucester Archives. This research trip was funded by a BARS Stephen Copley Award.

The Stephen Copley Award enabled me to consult a range of eighteenth-century manuscripts located at the Gloucester Archives. The purpose of this research trip was to consult the papers of Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Beaufort (1713-99), to investigate whether she commissioned any significant architectural works during her widowhood (1756-1799). Significantly, when her brother Norborne Berkeley died in 1770, Elizabeth inherited Stoke Park (Bristol) which she adopted as her dower House. The manuscripts that I consulted at Gloucester related predominantly to her tenure of Stoke Park (1770-99) and luckily proved to be extremely fruitful.

At Gloucester I consulted accounts, correspondence, bills and disbursements which all supported my hypothesis that Elizabeth was an avid architectural patroness during her widowhood. I discovered evidence that proved that she redecorated her dower house at least three times during her tenure of Stoke, demonstrating that she was conscious of the latest aesthetic trends. She also commissioned a series of architectural improvements to the house ranging from the remodelling of the Dining Room, to the insertion of new water closets, to the refurnishing of the bedchambers and dressing rooms.

Further bills related to her architectural commissions within the gardens and parkland. These included the construction of new entrance lodges which were completed in 1777 and advocated the increasingly popular Gothic style. Such a bold choice in style indicated that Elizabeth was interested in the latest architectural and intellectual movements of the times. Additionally, she also commissioned new greenhouses, ‘cucumber frames’ and estate cottages, as well as spending vast sums on repairing various garden follies, illustrating that her interest in architecture was both functional as well as aesthetic.

My research also uncovered details relating to Elizabeth’s properties in London. Surviving leases, plans, correspondence and bills concerning town houses in Grosvenor Square and Berkeley Square provide a valuable insight into the types of houses that elite widows occupied in the latter eighteenth century. The relationship between Elizabeth’s London house and Stoke Park was a pivotal one and enabled her to enjoy the best of the town and country life. These discoveries will enrich my argument that elite women were regularly involved in architectural patronage.

Surprisingly, until this point, Elizabeth has received little academic investigation. BARS has enabled me to rectify this oversight by providing me with the means to conduct new primary research into the life of this remarkable woman. Elizabeth’s vast fortune, land ownership and status placed her in a privileged position that allowed her to pursue her architectural and aesthetic ambitions. In an age where women were generally subordinate to their male relatives Elizabeth provides a fantastic example of female agency and independence.

To conclude, I wish to heartily thank the British Association for Romantic Studies for enabling me to undertake this research, which would not have been possible otherwise. The conducted research will be used directly in my thesis, bolstering my argument significantly.

Amy is a third year PhD student at the University of Cambridge investigating the extent to which elite women commissioned building schemes in eighteenth-century Britain. She is the co-chair of the Young Georgians, an off-shoot of The Georgian Group, a conservation organisation that aims to protect and save vulnerable 18th century buildings in the UK. She is currently in the process of establishing an East Anglian Country House Partnership, which aims to create a knowledge exchange partnership between Cambridge researchers and the surrounding country houses of East Anglia.

Copley Report: Genevieve Theodora McNutt

Genevieve Theodora McNutt was awarded Stephen Copley Research Award by BARS earlier this year.  Below, she gives an account of the research trip to the British Library that this funding enabled her to complete.

The Stephen Copley Research Award allowed me to travel to London to visit the British Library.  My research addresses the work of the antiquary Joseph Ritson, and I hoped to develop a better understanding of the research that Ritson undertook in the British Museum, particularly in the early years between his move to London in 1775 and his first major publications in 1782.  This period is sparsely covered in Bertrand Bronson’s excellent biography, as Bronson acknowledges.  There are very few surviving letters from this period, and little evidence of Ritson’s activities.  And yet, from his published work, it is clear that he carried out an astonishing project of research into early English literature during this period.  During my trip, I was able to consult material held in the British Library which provided invaluable evidence of Ritson’s research.

The Register of Manuscripts Sent to the Reading Room of the British Museum goes a long way towards filling the gaps in Ritson’s biography.  The Register makes clear that Ritson’s research was even more extensive than I had realized, and I now face the daunting task of cross-referencing the shelf marks recorded in the Register with the catalogues of the different collections.  However some results were immediately apparent.  The collections of the British Museum allowed Ritson’s research to take a literary turn, and many of his contributions to the study of early English literature would have been simply impossible without access to the those collections.  Although Ritson’s work on medieval romance was among the last works published during his lifetime, he had identified and made a close study of many of his manuscript sources decades earlier.  Although my focus, given my limited time, was on Ritson, turning the pages of the Register provided a fascinating window into the scholarship of the romantic period.

I was also able to examine Ritson’s Catalogue of Romances, his unpublished attempt to document and organize every printed romance, very broadly defined to include most fictional narrative works, in French, Italian and Spanish before 1600, and in English before 1660 (to my shame I only had the time and knowledge to deal with the volume of English romances).  The Catalogue is a sprawling and eclectic work, with multiple layers of revision over the years, and it provides fascinating evidence of Ritson’s research and the ways in which it changed and developed.  Although the bulk of the work is bibliographic, probably modelled on Joseph Ames’s Typographical Antiquities, there are many instances of Ritson’s literary judgements, sometimes arising from the task of categorization and organization.  Particularly interesting are the notes in Francis Douce’s hand, in a distinctive red ink.  Although it was previously unclear whether these had been made before or after Ritson’s death, I have identified several places in which Douce’s notes led to revisions in Ritson’s hand, providing clear evidence of collaboration.

I would like to thank BARS for making this trip possible.  The information I gathered is extremely valuable for my research.  It was a wonderful experience, if somewhat disorientating, to conduct research on how research was conducted more than two hundred years ago, to request, through an online catalogue, manuscripts that were themselves the record of manuscripts requested, and to sit in the crowded Reading Rooms of the British Library and try to understand a man who spent so many hours in the rooms of Montagu House.

Genevieve Theodora McNutt, University of Edinburgh

Copley Report: Colleen English

Colleen English was one of a number of BARS members who were awarded Stephen Copley Research Awards earlier this year.  Below, she gives an account of the research that the award assisted her with completing.

The Stephen Copley Research Award partially funded my research trip to London in mid-June 2016 to consult manuscript and print materials in the British Library and the Wellcome Library. The Award enabled me to consult material crucial both to my monograph project, “Writing the Dead: Epitaphs, Elegies and Communities of Sentiment in Romantic Ireland” and to an article I am preparing for publication on John Keats’s poetry and the scientific process of embalming corpses.

My monograph project, based on my PhD thesis, examines how the preoccupation with grief and loss in Irish poetry of the Romantic and early Victorian periods is informed by shifting historical contexts as well as by intellectual history, especially British empiricist philosophy. In moving away from the strict taxonomies of elegy toward a modal understanding of the poetics of mourning, this project focuses on the ways in which Irish poets, namely Mary Tighe, Thomas Moore, and James Clarence Mangan understood grief as a type of sympathy that enabled cross-cultural exchange between Ireland and England.

Since the project is focused on the cultural and political importance of mourning, the debates in the House of Lords in the 1820s surrounding the burial of dissenters and Roman Catholics in Protestant churchyards in Ireland is especially relevant. The Irish Burial Act is discussed in some detail in the correspondences of Lord Wellesley, who was the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland 1821-1827 and 1833-1834, and whose letters (many of which are unpublished) are held in the British Library’s collection. The opportunity to consult these materials, which include a copy of the amended Burial Act with Lord Wellesley’s remarks in the margins, greatly enhanced my understanding of the contested space of the churchyard in Ireland during this period.

I also consulted E.R. Moran’s papers concerning Thomas Moore. Included in the material was a book of newspaper cuttings about Moore’s poetry with Moran’s annotations in the margins. The book is organized by poem, so that the entry for Moore’s “Oh! Breathe Not His Name” also includes other poems written either in response to the poem or its subject, Robert Emmet’s final speech, making it possible to clearly see the reception of Moore’s poetry both in Ireland and England.

One of the highlights of my visit to the British Library was the opportunity to view one of the fifty privately printed copies of Mary Tighe’s epic poem Psyche (1805). The book also contains manuscript copies (written in an unknown hand) of two of Tighe’s poems in addition to a letter from Tighe to Mrs. Fox.

In the Wellcome Library I consulted books and manuscripts relating to the embalming process as it was practiced in the early nineteenth century, as well as texts pertaining to John Keats’s medical training. The anatomists John and William Hunter and their nephew, Matthew Baillie are important figures in my study as they made great advancements in the practice of embalming in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The opportunity to consult their letters gave me a fuller sense of their accomplishments and collaborations. The lecture notes of an anonymous student of John Hunter’s served to expand my understanding of the way that Hunter conceived of the communication between different nerves and organs in the human body as a kind of physiological sympathy.

Thanks to the generous support of BARS I was able to benefit from the rich array of manuscripts in the British Library and Wellcome Library collections, deepening my understanding of the affective properties of these texts and of the historical context in which they were produced, resulting in significant revisions to my monograph project and great advances made towards the completion of my essay on Keats. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to BARS for awarding me the Stephen Copley award, without which this research would not have been possible.

Dr. Colleen English, University College Dublin