In the later Romantic period and the Victorian era, the Peninsular War was repeatedly used as the subject of works of prose fiction. However, unlike representations of the war in poetry, these works has received much less literary-historical and critical attention.
An outstanding figure in this area, and a possible starting point for a reconstruction of its outline and extent, is Thomas Hamilton. The son of a Glaswegian professor of anatomy and botany, Thomas Hamilton (1789-1842) fought in the Peninsular War and was wounded at the Battle of Albuera, was a regular contributor to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, a friend of John Gibson Lockhart, Walter Scott and Felicia Hemans. In 1827 he published his partly autobiographical novel The Youth and Manhood of Cyril Thornton – possibly the starting point of the subgenre of the ‘military novel’, and containing sections set during the Peninsular campaigns – and his Annals of the Peninsular Campaign appeared in 1829.
His novel was republished in 1990 by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies (Thomas Hamilton, The Youth and Manhood of Cyril Thornton, ed. Maurice Lindsay, Aberdeen: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1990, ISBN 978-0-948877-11-7).
A few critical remarks about it, published soon after its publication, appeared in the …read more