News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

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New Content – Romantic Circles Reviews & Receptions

Romantic Circles Reviews & Receptions invites you to check out the exciting new content we have published recently:

  • We are pleased to announce a new section of its site dedicated to conference panel reviews. Just up are reviews of panels from the 2019 NASSR Chicago conference Romantic Elements by Ben Blackman, Sharon Choe, and Elizabeth Giardina, and a collective effort from Alexandra Milsom, Brian Rejack, and Shavera Seneviratne. We also have reviews of panels from the 2019 ICR Manchester conference Romanticism Now and Then by Hannah McAuliffe and Lucia Scigliano and a review of Anne-Lise François’s keynote lecture by Ross Wilson.
  • Recently published book reviews include Richard C. Sha’s Imagination and Science in Romanticism by Bysshe Inigo Coffey, Dahlia Porter’s Science, Form, and the Problem of Induction in British Romanticism by Jeanne Britton, Jonathan Sachs’s The Poetics of Decline in British Romanticism by Carmen Faye Mathes, and Manu Samriti Chander’s Brown Romantics: Poetry and Nationalism in the Global Nineteenth Century by Nikki Hessell, Alexander Regier’s Exorbitant Enlightenment: Blake, Hamann and Anglo-German Constellations by David Simpson, among others.
  • Jim Rovira has curated music playlists for his two recent collections Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 and Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms, both of which can be streamed through iTunes or Spotify.
  • Our section on “Romanticism and Popular Culture” continues to document both old and new references to Romantic texts and figures in, for example, HBO’s mini series Watchmen, runway shows at New York fashion week, and Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. Have you seen any Romanticism in the wilds of pop culture lately? If so, please submit your examples here.

We are also happy to welcome two new Associate Editors Alex Gatten and Lenora Hanson. If you have ideas for reviews of books, conferences, or digital scholarship resources, or for bookchats or booklists, then please get in touch with a member of the editorial collective here.

Associate Editors: Suzanne L. Barnett, Alex Gatten, Lenora Hanson, and Ross Wilson

General Editors: Orrin Wang and Paul Youngquist

The Censorship of British Theatre, 1737-1843

New web resource on theatre censorship: 

The website explores the topic of theatre censorship in Britain 1737-1843. It hosts 40 carefully selected play manuscripts submitted to the Examiner of Plays who had the primary responsibility of safeguarding the morals of theatre audiences after the passage of the Stage Licensing Act of 1737.

The manuscripts are drawn from the Larpent Collection (Huntington Library, Los Angeles) and the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays (British Library, London) and have been carefully selected to show the variety of reasons a play might be deemed inappropriate through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Each manuscript is accompanied by an author bio, plot synopsis, reception history, and commentary on the censorship. The editorial apparatus amounts to 95,000 words in total.


Introducing Project ERIN: Thomas Moore in Europe


ERIN documents two of Thomas Moore’s song series – the Irish Melodies (1808-1834) and National Airs (1818-1827) – as well as music inspired by his ‘oriental romance’ Lalla Rookh (1817). ERIN enables the user to track the production and dissemination of these works in Europe, from their respective dates of creation through to 1880. Any contributors to this process (composers, arrangers, editors, illustrators, engravers, publishers, etc.) are indexed or tagged as part of the project. All of ERIN’s resources are now available at This website unites the previously available blog and OMEKA resources (images) with some new features, including podcasts and a catalogue that unites the collections of eight European repositories. ERIN was co-produced by Dr Tríona O’Hanlon (Dublin) and Dr Sarah McCleave (Queen’s University Belfast) and was supported by the Horizon 2020 Framework of the European Union and Queen’s University Belfast.

To complement ERIN’s launch, the exhibition, ‘Discovering Thomas Moore: Ireland in nineteenth-century Europe’ is on display at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin from 17 June to 23 December 2019. ‘Discovering Thomas Moore’ is curated by Dr Sarah McCleave (Queen’s University Belfast). For further information about this exhibition and a series of complementary lectures on Thomas Moore, see this link.

Announcement: ‘Mary Hays: Life, Writings, and Correspondence’

‘Mary Hays: Life, Writings, and Correspondence’ is a fully searchable website now open to the public.

The site presents the most complete accounting to date of the life and career of Mary Hays (1759-1843).  The site provides students and scholars with access to all pertinent materials related to Hays, especially her extensive correspondence, including some 90 letters by her close friend Eliza Fenwick (1766-1840) appearing for the first time in their entirety.



More than 400 letters, fully annotated, can be found in this collection. The site also includes the complete texts of all her periodical writings (1784-1800) and all reviews of her own writings, as well as the complete text of Cursory Remarks (1792) and much of Letters and Essays(1793). The site contains the first complete genealogy of Hays, including the discovery of her previously unknown youngest sister, Marianna Hays (1773-97), and her numerous nephews and nieces, including the radical feminist writer Matilda Mary Hays (1820-97), not previously known to have been Hays’s niece.

Biographical notices of more than 100 individuals connected with Mary Hays can also be found on the site. Much of the new material on Hays has come from the diary, reminiscences, and correspondence of her long-time friend and relation through marriage, Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867). The material on the site situates Hays within a vibrant culture of religious Dissent for the entirety of her life, a culture that both gives rise to her writing aspirations and circumscribes them thereafter.

The site has been created and compiled by Timothy Whelan, Georgia Southern University.

The William Blake Archive: an update

Please see below for a statement from the William Blake Archive:


‘Two decades ago, the William Blake Archive set out to address, through the opportunities of digital media, the considerable challenges inherent in reproducing Blake’s work. A pioneer in digital humanities scholarship, the archive has brought together both streams of Blake’s work, for the first time making it easily available as he originally created it. A newly launched, transformative redesign of the archive makes this international public resource even more accessible to scholars and casual readers.

The archive now holds almost 7,000 images from 45 of the world’s leading research libraries and museums. It integrates editions, catalogs, databases, and scholarly tools into a single electronic archive.

It is a joint project of the University of Rochester and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with support from the Library of Congress.

The archive made history when, in 2003, it became the first electronic scholarly edition to receive the Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition from the Modern Language Association, the major professional organization for the study and teaching of language and literature. And in 2005, the archive received the MLA’s Approved Edition seal—another digital edition first.

Here’s a link to our story, which we have presented in conjunction with National Poetry Month.’

– Kathleen McGarvey

Interdisciplinary MOOC on the Gothic Revival

BARS members may be interested in a new Massive Open Online Course on the Gothic that’s being run from the end of this month by Dale Townshend and Peter Lindfield – more details below.

Interested in the Gothic?

Want to learn about Gothic literature (including The Castle of Otranto and Frankenstein), the eighteenth century, Gothic Revival architecture, interiors and furniture, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill?

Then register for our free six-week MOOC:

The Gothic Revival, 1700–1850: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Written and produced by Drs Dale Townshend and Peter Lindfield at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

STARTS 29 February 2016

To register, visit:

Our MOOC’s trailer can be viewed at:

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Archives Spotlight: Papers of Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883)

We’re very happy to be able to publish a piece by Holly Wright of the West Sussex Record Office exploring their recently-catalogued archive of materials relating to Anna Eliza Bray, which promises to be a really great resource for Romanticists.

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Papers of Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883)

The papers of 19th Century author Anna Eliza Bray have recently been catalogued at West Sussex Record Office and are now available for researchers to access. The catalogue can be viewed via our Search Online facility at

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Frontispiece of Anna Eliza Bray’s book The White Hoods (Bray 3/2).

Anna Eliza Bray (formerly Stothard, neé Kempe) was born on 25th December 1790 in Newington, Surrey and died on 21st January 1883 in London. She was originally destined for a career in the theatre; however, this endeavour was cut short as she fell ill days before a much anticipated performance at Bath’s Theatre Royal in May 1815, and subsequently lost the opportunity to appear on the stage again. The archive contains letters from this period between her mother, her brother Alfred John Kempe (the antiquarian) and theatre directors from Bath and Cheltenham.

In February 1818, she married Charles Alfred Stothard (eldest son of the Royal Academy artist Thomas Stothard) and her first book was published in 1820 entitled Letters written during a tour through Normandy, Britanny and other parts of France in 1818. This publication would establish her as a writer and advance her into the literary circles of her day, acquainting her with such notable figures as Sir Walter Scott, Amelia Opie, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, John Murray and the most influential character in her career, the Poet Laureate Robert Southey. Her husband died shortly afterwards in a tragic accident on 28th May 1821, when he fell from a ladder in Bere Ferrers Church in Devon while drawing the stained glass window. In 1822, she married Reverend Edward Atkyns Bray and moved to Tavistock Vicarage in Devon; shortly thereafter her next book Memoirs of Charles Alfred Stothard was published in 1823. The West Country became a significant influence on her writing and it was during her life in Tavistock when most of her literary output was accomplished, including her most well-known work A Description of the part of Devonshire bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy, published by John Murray in 1836. This was a 3-volume descriptive account of the history, customs and folklore of West Devon, the idea for which was first suggested to Mrs Bray by Southey in 1831 and later published as a series of letters she had written to him on the subject. It proved very popular and was reprinted in 1879 in a two-volume edition. Other works included a well-received 10-volume set of historical novels, another travel book entitled Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland, biographies of Thomas Stothard and the composer George Frederick Handel and a children’s book entitled A Peep at the Pixies. After her husband’s death in 1857, she moved back to London and continued to write well into the 1870s, editing and publishing her late husband’s sermons and writing further books on French history and Devon folklore.

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Letter to Anna Eliza Bray from Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Bray 1/1/7).

This archive will, no doubt, be of great interest to Romantic scholars as it contains over 100 letters from Caroline Southey, the second wife of Robert Southey, with whom Mrs Bray was first acquainted in 1840. This correspondence continued over a period of 14 years, which is even more remarkable when considering the fact that they never ended up meeting one another. Not only did Caroline Southey write frequently of her husband and his children, but some of the earlier letters also refer to other Romantic-era figures including William Wordsworth and members of the Coleridge family.

Letter to Anna Eliza Bray from Caroline Southey written after Robert Southey’s death (Bray 1/3/26).

Letter to Anna Eliza Bray from Caroline Southey written after Robert Southey’s death (Bray 1/3/26).

There is also ‘Mrs Southey’s Narrative’, a biographical piece written by Caroline Southey in 1840 regarding her courtship and marriage to Robert Southey, copied by Mrs Bray’s niece from the original manuscript. Other correspondence includes letters from the poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Charles Cuthbert Southey and Edith May Warter (nee Southey), son and daughter respectively of Robert Southey and his first wife Edith Fricker. The most unusual and unique items in the collection are undoubtedly three locks of hair belonging to Robert and Caroline Southey, given to Mrs Bray in 1854.

The archive also contains a wealth of correspondence, travel journals, a scrapbook of drawings and watercolours, printed books and numerous draft manuscripts including the 3 volume manuscript of her autobiography, published posthumously in 1884. This work includes an account of the visit made by Robert Southey and his son Charles to Tavistock Vicarage in December 1836 as well as transcriptions of his letters to Mrs Bray. There is also a handwritten poetry book dating from the early 1820s which belonged to Mary Maria Colling, a maidservant and amateur poet from Tavistock. Mrs Bray bestowed her patronage upon Mary and privately published a selection of her poetry in 1831 entitled Fables and Other Pieces in Verse. This publication also included letters written by Mrs Bray to Robert Southey who assisted in gathering together many notable subscribers for the book, including John Murray and William Wordsworth.


Two of Anna Eliza Bray’s travel journals of Cornwall and North Devon (Bray 2/3 and Bray 2/11).

I will be presenting a talk on the Bray archive at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester entitled ‘A Peep at the Pixies’: exploring the life and literary archive of Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883) on Tuesday 24th November 2015 at 7pm. Tickets cost £7.50 including refreshments, and a selection of documents from the archive will be out on display. If you would like to book a place, please contact our reception on 01243 753602.

For any enquiries regarding the collection, catalogue or the November talk please contact West Sussex Record Office on

Holly Wright
Searchroom Assistant, West Sussex Record Office

All images are reproduced with the permission of West Sussex Record Office.

Romantic London Website


Abusing my position as editor here briefly, I’d just like to point readers in the direction of a new digital project I’m working on which puts Richard Horwood’s ‘PLAN of the Cities of LONDON and WESTMINSTER the Borough of SOUTHWARK, and PARTS adjoining Shewing every HOUSE’ (1792-9) into conversation with a series of other Romantic-period works which seek to organise the city.  The site features a detailed, zoomable version of the Plan (from images provided by the British Library) layered over modern digital maps of the city, allowing for comparisons and contrasts.  It currently features annotated versions placing plates from the Microcosm of London (1808-10), plates and text from Modern London (1804) and text from Fores’s New Guide for Foreigners and the 1788 edition of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies.  The site is very much a work in progress at present – eventually, there’ll be a number of additional functions and several series of more literary annotations – but hopefully what’s there at present will already be of use for scholars working on the Romantic-period metropolis.  If you have any thoughts on the site (or have any problems using it), I’d be very grateful for any ideas or feedback.


Illustration Archive Launch

Thanks to Nicky Lloyd for the following notice about an exciting new resource:


We are pleased to announce the launch of the Illustration Archive:

The archive contains over a million book illustrations from the British Library’s collections, taken from around 68,000 works of literature, history, geography and philosophy.  The images span the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, covering a variety of reproductive techniques (including etching, wood engraving, lithography and photography).

Users can search across the whole range of illustrations and can view and curate online exhibitions, as well as creating and sharing their own collections of images from the archive.

The archive contains a wealth of images from the nineteenth century and plenty of illustrations of Romantic texts (and their authors!) so we encourage BARS members to take a look at the site.

For more information, see our blog ( or follow us on Twitter @Lost_Visions.