As my husband, Allen Ashley, and I have each written a couple of articles for the Wordsworth Trust’s blog, we’d been invited to Rydal Hall in the Grasmere area of the Lake District, along with other blog contributors, for a weekend of talks, walks, and all things Wordsworth, kindly organised by one of the trustees, Lynn Shepherd.
I’d never visited the Lakes before, and even though I’d been told by friends and family who had done that it was an area of great natural beauty, I was unprepared for how powerfully the landscape would impact on me. There was something entirely magical about the solidity of the hills, with their dry stone walled lower pastures stippled with sheep, and their densely forested heights; the sparkle of water at every twist and turn; vast, ever-changing skies, alive with a brilliant wash of sunshine one minute, and heavy with dense, rolling clouds heaving with rain the next. One of the articles I’d written for the blog was a critical appreciation of Shelley’s meteorological masterpiece, ‘The Cloud’, which I chose in no small part because I’m a total weather obsessive. For me, weather is not the stuff of politely …read more
Britain continues to experience the aftershocks of perhaps the most divisive General Election since Clement Atlee’s Labour Party ousted Winston Churchill’s Tories in 1945. With Labour’s narrow defeat on 8 June 2017, the National Health Service and other key public services remain vulnerable to a relentless programme of state shrinking. By the same token, deregulation, a 1% public sector pay cap and the removal of Welfare State safety nets will reduce further the living standards and life chances of low earners, children and vulnerable citizens throughout the UK. In the last year, over a million people – the homeless, ill, unemployed, veterans, single parents, nurses – were forced to rely on food banks. Incredible as it may seem in the tenth most prosperous country in the world, bare-ribbed Austerity continues to stalk the land.
It might seem a reasonable assumption that any UK government would aspire to create the conditions in which the majority of the nation’s inhabitants can flourish, and realise their aspirations, rather than load the dice so that an already privileged, overwhelmingly privately educated and health-insured elite …read more
The call for papers is now open for an exciting conference in Rome this December, hosted by the Keats-Shelley House.
The Revolt of Islam: Texts, Subtexts, Contexts
December 15, 2017
A conference celebrating two hundred years of P. B. Shelley’s poem
This conference will mark the bicentenary of Shelley’s Revolt of Islam, first published in 1817 as Laon and Cythna. Papers are invited which will explore critical interpretations and reactions, or which provide close readings of the text itself. Papers focusing on historical and contextual considerations and which explore contemporary resonances will also be welcomed.
The afternoon of 15 December has been chosen, for it was on this day in 1817 that publisher Charles Ollier met up with Thomas Love Peacock, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and Shelley himself to discuss the potentially controversial and contentious nature of Shelley’s poem.
The conference is being organised by Giuseppe Albano, Curator of the Keats-Shelley House, and Maria Valentini from the University of Cassino, who will take over as Chair of the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association in Rome from June 2017.
Papers may be given in English or in Italian, and abstracts accepted in either language.
Deadline for submission of abstracts (c. 200 words): 31 August 2017.
Literary, Cultural, Historical and Political Celebrations across and beyond the British Isles
Friday 20th October 2017 Campus LSH, Nancy and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy
The year 2017-2018 marks multiple anniversaries that will be commemorated transnationally: the deaths of Mme de Staël and Jane Austen, the birth of Stanley Kubrick, the release of The Beatles album “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the end of World War One and the subsequent creation of new nation states, the Russian Revolution and the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Why and how will these literary figures, cultural productions and historical events be remembered/celebrated in individual countries and across Europe? In what ways and to what extent are these commemorations transferred from one cultural space to another across and beyond the British Isles?
At a time of crisis concerning Europe’s identity and ideals, commemorations are not only intended as a nation-building process, they can also be appropriated by social or political groups. There is, indeed, a variety of actors at national, regional, and local levels, such as cultural institutions, museums, political parties and social media. The increasing mobility and instability in today’s world triggers off the opposite tendency of going back to …read more
The full programme and registration details for ‘Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period’ (Birkbeck, London: 20 & 21 July 2017) are now available. Details can be found here.
About the conference…
‘This conference invites participants to investigate the play of papers between fugitive snips, scraps, and scattered verse, and the promise of the great work, complete edition, or philosophical system. We ask why Coleridge – poet, ‘scrapster’, and would-be encyclopaedist – turned to Virgil’s Sibyl and her scattered leaves, ‘borne aloft in liquid air’, to frame his 1817 collection of poetry Sibylline Leaves; what is at stake in reading the fragments and detached pieces which escape beyond the bound volume; how do the metaphors and materialities of these ‘leaves in flight’ interact; what mediates the ‘phantasmal chaos of association’; how does compilation inform the practices, ideals, anxieties and temporalities of romantic authorship, and the cut-and-paste fervours of its readership? Please join us to discuss all this and more over two days, in the summery environs of Bloomsbury.’
“It has been estimated that at the time of Keats’ death, the combined sales of the three books published during his lifetime amounted to 200 copies.”
Andrew Motion, The Guardian, 23 January 2010
Yet here we are, two hundred years later, and the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association is running an international prize for essay and poetry celebrating the publication of the first volume.
How does a life that ended at 25 wield such power?
This year’s Keats-Shelley theme is ‘To a Friend’ and the idea of Keats’s own relationships. It stirred in me enormous emotions about my own relationship to John Keats– through the editions of his poems that brought him into my life. Like great choral music, if no one picks up the actual books and reads (or sings), the genius is silent.
In junior high school, just starting to be conscious of the names Keats, Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, I noticed books that had long been on the family bookshelf: The Literature of England: An Anthology & A History, Vol. 1 & 2, Wood, Wyatt, Anderson, Scott, Foresman and Company, 1947; and Seven Centuries of Verse: English & American, A.J.M Smith, Michigan State College, Charles …read more
What would Mary Shelley quip about Romanticism, scholarship, or the current state of the world? Now is your chance to riff in the Keats-Shelley Association’s caption contest for its new series of informational postcards. Please help us create the picture caption for our first postcard, featuring Mary Shelley, which will be distributed at various conferences and Romantics 200 events. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive “captioned by” credit on the back of that K-SAA postcard. With John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and others to be featured on cards to come, there will be several opportunities for you to participate.
The Archive Spotlight series continues with a post by Elizabeth Spencer (PhD Candidate, History, University of York), on her findings after a research visit to Dorset History Centre in Dorchester. The papers of the Reverend William Ettrick (1757-1847), although not appropriate material for Elizabeth’s thesis, did however tell a rather intriguing tale, which she recounts here.
Would you like to contribute to this series? For more information, please contact Anna Mercer.
“The Lady was to be young and of good Family also”: Finding a wife for the Reverend William Ettrick
By Elizabeth Spencer
Recent research into the Ettrick family of High Barnes in Sunderland led me, somewhat surprisingly, all the way to the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester in order to look at the papers of the Reverend William Ettrick (1757-1847). I have been researching the marriage of his parents William (1726-1808) and Catherine Ettrick (1726-1794), and so hoped that I might find some traces of them in their son’s papers. The Reverend William Ettrick had an extremely difficult relationship with his father, and so had left Sunderland ‘without a penny in [his] pocket’ as soon as he had turned 21 in order to take up a …read more
Abstracts for posters and 20-minute papers are invited for a three-day, interdisciplinary conference and workshop covering all aspects of the making, collecting and reception of colour prints in the long eighteenth century. The convenors particularly welcome proposals from book historians and scholars of illustration.
Full details and instructions on how to submit are available at
We’ve just published the full programme for our London workshop, ‘Institutions as Networks’, on the main event page on our website. This workshop will take place on the 13th and 14th of July at the Society of Antiquaries’ premises in London. We’re very excited about the line-up of speakers and think that it promises to be a really fascinating couple of days. If after looking at the programme your interest is piqued, we have a limited number of spaces available for delegates – to make your interest known, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. The event has no registration fee and fully catered – all we ask is that if you sign up to attend, you make every effort to do so, as otherwise the costs that we incur will go to waste. Hope to see a number of you in London in July for our second round of discussions!