EHU Nineteen Research Centre Launch

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EHU Nineteen: Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Edge Hill University is celebrating its launch in 2021!

Join us on 29 September to discuss the future of nineteenth-century studies (and our Centre’s role in it)!

Meet our new research fellows, sponsored by us, the Wilkie Collins Journal, and BARS/BAVS!

Chat with leading international scholars in our live Q&A!

Further details and bookings here.

CFP: Table Talks 3 – New Approaches to Romantic Studies and Youth

Thursday 16th December 2021

‘Table Talks’, interactive workshops linked to the AHRC-funded project ‘The Romantic Ridiculous’, will continue in 2021 with a mixture of lightning talks, Q&A, and conversation – this time with a focus on Romantic Studies and the idea of ‘youth’, broadly considered.

Join Dr Andrew McInnes and Dr Rita Dashwood for an exploration of Romantic-period childhood, adolescence, experience, and silliness.

We seek close readings of any aspect of ‘youth’ related to Romanticism. This might include, but is not limited to:

  • Representations of children, childhood, youth, and adolescence
  • Representations of innocence and experience
  • Silliness in the Romantic period
  • Literature aimed at children, including poetry and drama, as well as texts about children and childhood, including medical, philosophical, and conduct books

We invite postgraduate and early career researchers to pitch a literary text to close read alongside our selections. This close reading does not have to be linked to ‘The Romantic Ridiculous’ project but should lead to a discussion of a new perspective on Romantic Studies and society.

We have 5 x £100 bursaries for successful pitches. A virtual reading pack will be sent out before the event and successful applicants will be expected to lead an informal discussion of their chosen text.

Please send a pitch including a literary text of ca. 1000 words (which may comprise a 1000- word extract from a longer text or complete texts of 1000 words or less) with a 250-word rationale for its inclusion to by Sunday 31st October 2021.

The ‘Table Talk’ will be open to all and we invite you to attend an exciting online discussion of new approaches to Romantic Studies and society!

CFP (BARS/NASSR): New Romanticisms

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Tuesday 2nd – Friday 5th August 2022

‘New Romanticisms’ invites explorations of both the concept of newness in and about the Romantic period and new approaches to Romantic Studies today. The title for the conference also plays on the term ‘New Romantics’, referring to post-punk bands of the late 1970s and 1980s influenced by Romantic-period aesthetics, especially ‘dandy’ fashions (roughly equivalent to ‘new wave’ artists in America). The conference organisers are therefore particularly interested in responses to the call for papers which think about Romantic legacies and receptions in music, theatre, pop culture, and beyond. We would also welcome areas of research distinct from literary and cultural studies, which might include, but is not limited to: art history, material culture, cultural heritage, public engagement, and knowledge exchange.

This conference has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and, therefore, its focus on the new feels more urgent than ever. What does it mean to study Romanticism today? How can Romantic Studies appropriately and effectively respond to current debates about the relevance and future of Higher Education, social justice, climate change, and contemporary culture more generally? Papers reflecting on the pressures on research, teaching, and service intra- or post-pandemic are particularly welcome. The conference aims to be an open, inclusive, accessible, and diverse space for the discussion of newness in Romantic Studies and its legacies and impact today.

The conference will take place in hybrid format, with physical panels, keynotes, and workshops, also available in digital format, taking best practice from online events into the running of the joint conference.

The physical event will take place at Edge Hill University, with Thursday 4th August devoted to an exploration of Liverpool and its Romantic history and legacies. As Liverpool was a hub for both advocates of slavery and abolitionists, as well as radical political agitation more generally from Dissenters to Chartists, papers which respond to the history of slavery and abolition, maritime and radical cultures, and the wider significance of England’s North-West on the Romantic period, will also be welcome.

Please submit abstracts of 250 words, panel proposals of 750 words (including details of individual papers plus a rationale for the panel), or innovative presentation formats of 500 words (including, for example, poster presentations, pedagogical workshops, salons, and dramatic and/or musical performance pieces) to

Please include an indication of whether your presentation / panel / innovative presentation format is intended to be hosted online (and asynchronous or synchronous).

Deadline: 13th December 2021

CFP: The Shelley Conference

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#Shelley200: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Final Years and Afterlives

Friday & Saturday 8-9 July 2022, The Nightingale Room at Keats House, Hampstead, London

In 1818, the Shelleys exchanged their settled life at Albion House in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, for an Italian exile—a period distinguished by remarkable productivity and artistic achievement. To commemorate the bicentenary of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s death on 8th July 1822, the Shelley Conference 2022 will centre on the final two years of the poet’s sojourn in Italy. Beginning with the summer of 1820, the last twenty-four months of Shelley’s life were populated by brilliance. Within that short lease fall such works as Prometheus Unbound, Swellfoot the Tyrant, ‘Letter to MariaGisborne’, ‘Witch of Atlas’, Epipsychidion, Adonais, the late lyrics, ‘A Defence of Poetry’, accomplished translations, andThe Triumph of Life.

The Shelley Conference will celebrate the achievements of a major Romantic poet, but also his various afterlives. We invite papers on Shelley’s last two years in Italy (his work, thought, life, friendships, and reading), but also on matters of Shelleyan reception: Shelley editing, and networks of influence, including the political, the musical, and the visual.

The conference will be in person and in the beautiful surroundings of Keats House Museum in Hampstead, North London. Proposals should be in the form of 150-word abstracts for 15-minute papers. Please include a 100-word biography with your proposal. There will be a significantly discounted registration fee for unwaged andpostgraduate scholars.

We are pleased to be able to offer one £100 Postgraduate Bursary funded by the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) to contribute towards the cost of travel and accommodation for one unwaged/postgraduate researcher. To be eligible for this Bursary, you must be a PhD student, or post-PhD and not in a full-time salaried academic post, at the time of application. To apply, please include ‘UW/Postgraduate Bursary Submission’ in the title of your proposal. The successful recipient will be notified in February 2022.

Keynote speakers: Professor Nora Crook (Anglia Ruskin University) and Professor Michael Rossington(Newcastle University)

Closing date: Monday 7th February 2022.

Please email proposals in Word format to by midnight on the closing date.

The Meeting project – John Clare – new music

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The final element of the ‘The Meeting’ 1820 anniversary project at Oxford Brookes University is now freely available online, here.

Towards the bottom of that page you will find a series of audio recordings entitled “melodys of earth & sky”: new musical compositions by Julian Philips, in dialogue with new readings of Clare by Toby Jones. 

Julian’s ‘creative transcriptions’ are rewritings of tunes from Clare’s own versions of folksongs. Clare read and wrote music, and played the fiddle. Julian’s reimaginings of these tunes put the violin of Ionel Manciu in playful, sportive dialogue with the clarinets of Kate Romano. In further thematic, tonal conversation with these new instrumental songs, are a selection of poems, performed by Toby Jones, and chosen by Julian and SImon Kövesi.

An album (CD and other media) will be released by the NMC record label in the autumn. This project was made possible by funding from Arts Council England, the John Clare Society and Oxford Brookes University.

Wordsworth Winter School, 14–19 February 2022

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The Wordsworth Winter School is coming back! Join us at Rydal Hall in the heart of the Lake District, 14–19 February 2022, for a week of lectures and seminars exploring the theme of ‘Wordsworth and Storytelling’. As always, there will be cakes, challenging minds, congenial company . . . and the incomparable landscape.

We will investigate how the poet told stories of himself and of historical and imaginary characters through the lenses of literary style, history, biography, and influence. Texts to be studied encompass Lyrical Ballads, Peter Bell, The ExcursionThe White Doe of RylstoneThe Prelude, and more.

The celebrated poet Sean O’Brien will be giving a reading of his poems in response to Wordsworth’s stories.

Registration will open in the autumn on the Winter School’s website.

CFP: De Quincey at 200

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The Jerwood Centre at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, 13–14 May 2022

Keynote Lecture by Robert Morrison (Bath Spa University, British Academy Global Professor)

Deadline for proposals: 15 November 2021

In September and October 1821, the London Magazine published a remarkable text. Republished as a book in 1822, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater: Being an Extract from the Life of a Scholar was an instant sensation, launching its writer, Thomas De Quincey, on a long and richly varied career in literature. Negotiating between London and the Lakes, between prose and poetry, and between a dizzying range of discourses and disciplines, the Confessions invented the genre of addiction literature and redefined what it meant to write Romantic prose. Above all, through his Confessions, De Quincey asserted himself amongst the Lake Poets, particularly situating himself alongside and against Wordsworth and Coleridge.

To mark this singular text’s bicentennial, we invite papers for an international conference on De Quincey, his Confessions, and the Lake Poets. Suggested topics include:

•  De Quincey on the Lake Poets/the Lake Poets on De Quincey

•  De Quincey’s later oeuvre

•  The literature of addiction

•  Romantic (auto)biography

•  The Confessions at 200 in light of other Romantic bicentennials

•  Romantic essay writing: Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt, Christopher North, etc.

•  Disciplines and discourses in the Confessions and beyond: philosophy, political economy, politics and ideology, the urban sublime, etc.

•  Reception and legacy of the Confessions: Woolf, Baudelaire, Poe, etc.

•  Magazine culture

We welcome proposals for standard 20-minute conference papers (max. 250 words), as well as for three-person panels (three abstracts of max. 250 words). Experimental formats will also be considered. Please include your name, affiliation and email address in your proposal.

The conference will take place in De Quincey’s onetime home in the Lakes, on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May 2022. The fee, excluding residence costs, will be in the region of £100. There are many B&Bs and hotels in Grasmere within walking distance of the venue.

 Please send proposals and any queries to The deadline is 15 November 2022.

 Organisers: Brecht de Groote (Ghent), Tim Fulford (De Montfort), and Matt Sangster (Glasgow).

On This Day in 1821 – Shelley, Byron, and Leigh Hunt’s The Liberal

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The BARS ‘On This Day’ Blog series celebrates the 200th anniversary of literary and historical events of the Romantic period. Want to contribute a future post? Get in touch.

The 26th of August 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the letter from Percy Shelley to Leigh Hunt which launched the collaboration between himself, Hunt, and Byron on the periodical The Liberal. Veteran ‘On This Day’ writer and Percy Shelley scholar Ana Stevenson takes this occasion to discuss the relationship between the three men, and the personal and professional frictions which their collaboration provoked.

On This Day in 1821 – Shelley, Byron, and Leigh Hunt’s The Liberal

by Ana Stevenson

He [Byron] proposes that you should come out and go shares with him and me in a periodical work, to be conducted here; in which each of the contracting parties shall publish all their original compositions, and share the profits.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821

On this day 200 years ago, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Leigh Hunt to suggest they work on a new periodical in collaboration with Lord Byron: The Liberal. There are uncertainties regarding whose idea it was – some say that Byron vaguely suggested the project while Shelley visited him in Ravenna, and Shelley decided to bring Hunt on board. Others suggest that it was Shelley’s idea – perhaps motivated by a longing to unite the group through the radical beliefs that had brought them together in the first place.[1]

Hunt had recently attempted to launch a new journal, The Indicator, which concluded with the seventeenth volume. He had no money, a large family, and a sick wife. Shelley had provided him with some financial help for a while, but his own resources were limited. Byron was unlikely to give Leigh Hunt any sum of money, as Hunt’s habit of asking for money and never paying back was one of the reasons why Lord Byron had distanced himself from his former friend.

Percy Bysshe Shelley by Amelia Curran (1819), National Portrait Gallery

Perhaps a reconciliation linked with financial benefits is what Shelley had in mind when he suggested that he would be exempt from any profit coming from The Liberal:

There can be no doubt that the profits of any scheme in which you and Lord Byron engage, must, from various yet co-operating reasons, be very great. As to myself, I am, for the present, only a sort of link between you and him, until you can know each other and effectuate the arrangement; since[…] nothing would induce me to share in the profits, and still less in the borrowed splendour, of such a partnership.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821.

Byron and Hunt knew each other well, having been introduced by fellow poet Thomas Moore in 1813 while Hunt was imprisoned for libel at Surrey Gaol (a result of Hunt expressing his feelings regarding the Prince Regent in The Examiner). Byron sympathised with the writer and his views, and paid Hunt another visit soon after they were first acquainted.[1]However, although the burgeoning friendship had potential, it weakened over the years and by the time Byron had moved to Italy, they were no longer in direct contact and only received news of each other via third parties.

Lord Byron by Richard Westall (1813), National Portrait Gallery

Shelley seems to have been aware that borrowing money was a delicate subject when those involved were Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt. Being a pragmatic man, he knew that Hunt could not possibly afford to relocate to Italy with his family, and asking Byron for help – who may have already been unsure about being “in business” with Hunt – was not an option. Shelley writes to Hunt informing him that:

I did not ask Lord Byron to assist me in sending a remittance for your journey; because there are men, however excellent, from whom we would never receive an obligation, in the worldly sense of the word; and I am as jealous for my friend as for myself. I, as you know, have it not: but I suppose that at last I shall make up an impudent face, and ask Horace Smith to add to the many obligations he has conferred on me. I know I need only ask.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821

Shelley was eventually able to secure a large loan on Hunt’s behalf from Byron, but only by using his own inheritance as security.[2]

In the past, both Shelley and Hunt had held low opinions of Byron’s behaviour towards women. Shelley was an admirer of free love, believing that Love is an unlimited source not to be controlled by others than the individual, but he also thought that the relationship between the persons in question should go beyond vulgar lust.[2] He condemned Byron’s lifestyle in Venice, but with the poet’s relocation away from this Italian den of iniquity, Shelley assured Hunt that Lord Byron had abandoned his disreputable ways and a connection with him was no longer a potential harm to one’s reputation. He concludes his letter with the observation that:

Lord Byron is reformed, as far as gallantry goes, and lives with a beautiful and sentimental Italian lady, who is as much attached to him as may be. I trust greatly to his intercourse with you, for his creed to become as pure as he thinks his conduct is. He has many generous and exalted qualities, but the canker of aristocracy wants to be cut out.

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 26th of August 1821

Hunt’s journey to Italy was an arduous one. It cost more money than predicted due to delays caused by the weather and his wife’s ill health. It was not until the 1st of July of the following year that Shelley and Hunt were finally reunited in Livorno. Shelley was said to be in the highest spirits, joking and laughing until tears were streaming down his eyes.[3]

Leigh Hunt by Thomas Charles Wageman (1815), National Portrait Gallery

They set off to Pisa with Lord Byron, but it was clear that this reunion did not go as smoothly as Shelley had hoped. Hunt was already in debt and Byron appeared annoyed by the presence of Hunt’s large family, but Shelley made great efforts to mediate the situation. He was optimistic about the first edition of The Liberal, which was to come in the autumn, featuring Byron’s Vision of Judgement amongst other poems. However, his friend and travelling companion, Edward Williams, was anxious to return to his wife Jane in Lerici. Shelley was pressed by Hunt and Byron to stay, but also had his own partner Mary and infant son waiting for him at home. He decided to return to Villa Magni with Williams on the 8th of July, with promises to be with his friends very soon. That was the last time Hunt would see Shelley alive; the stormy waters claimed Shelley’s life that same night.

The Liberal went ahead but did not last. It is possible that Byron may have only proceeded with the plans for The Liberal, a project he was already bored with, to honour his late friend. The first number came out in October of that year, featuring Shelley’s translations from ‘Faust’ along with the poem promised by Byron. The periodical was published in London, but it was not received well, and its radical content shocked the public. The Liberal ceased after four volumes. Shortly after, Byron left for Greece, where he died in 1824, and Leigh Hunt returned to England where he would continue to write, eventually publishing a memoir in 1828 called Lord Byron and Some of His Contemporaries: With Recollections of the Author’s Life, and of His Visit to Italy. Leigh Hunt passed away on the 28th of August 1859, almost 38 years to the date of Shelley’s letter proposing their reunion.

Ana Stevenson (@AnaBStevenson) is a writer and independent scholar based in London. Ana specialises in English Romanticism with a focus on the life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, currently exploring personal accounts recorded by his contemporaries in order to gain an insight into the development of his philosophy and assisting on the #Shelley200 project and conference as a Postgraduate Helper. Read her previous contribution to this series here…

[1]Richard Holmes, Shelley: The Pursuit (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974) p. 728.

[2]Topic elaborated by Nathaniel Brown on Sexuality and Feminism in Shelley (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979) p. 49. Brown uses a canceled passage from A Defence where Shelley discusses the bucolic or erotic poets of Egypt and Sicily.

[3]Holmes, p. 728.

A Short Judges’ Report on the 2021 BARS First Book Prize

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(Derived from the remarks delivered at the ceremony on August 19th at the Romantic Disconnections/Reconnections Conference.)

Awarded biennially for the best first monograph in Romantic Studies, for the current round the prize was open to first books published between 1 January 2019 and 1 January 2021. The judges for the current round were, in alphabetical order, David Fallon, Tess Somervell, and Angela Wright. Francesca Saggini chaired the panel.

The judges received 17 submissions, 12 of which were considered eligible. The remaining books were considered ineligible due to language (not in English) or as being outwith the current cut-off date of the Award.

First of all, we must say that the judges were impressed by the overall high level of originality and by the interdisciplinarity of all the submissions. Here we would like to commend all the researchers for the unfailingly high level of their scholarship. The competition was incredibly high spirited in this round as we immediately realised that some of the nominated books in 2021 would provide a very strong contribution to Romantic Studies not only now but also in the years to come.

It was a very tough job for the judges to narrow down the field. However, in July, we agreed on a four-strong shortlist of books, as follows (in alphabetical order):

  1. Will Bowers, The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815-1823 (2020)
  2. Amelia Dale, The Printed Reader: Gender, Quixotism, and Textual Bodies in 18thC Britain (2019)
  3. Hrileena Ghosh, John Keats’ Medical Notebook: Text, Context, and Poems (2020)
  4. Gerard Lee McKeever, Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831 (2020)

After further discussion and an intense to-ing and froing on emails, the judges reached consensus. Today, we are thrilled to share with you the name of the winner and celebrate with you all the research of the Early Career Researchers forming the roots and branches of the BARS community.


First, we would like to praise the works of Will Bowers and Amelia Dale (in alphabetical order).

Will Bowers’ The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815-1823 is an excellent interdisciplinary work, focussing upon a very useful distinction between tourists and exiles, and demonstrating an exceptional and strong understanding of British Romanticism, and its engagements with authors such as Dante and Sismondi. Will Bowers’ study ranges over English and Italian literature, European and British history, criticism, translation, print culture, art and more, with some impressive and original archival research. It’s knitted together well into a convincing argument sustained over the chapters, and the written style is lucid and dexterous. This is a very good book, carefully researched and original in most of its aspects. Although focusing on a quite limited period (the ‘hot chronology’ from 1815-1823), it is engagingly presented as a double-focussed study and the organization of the book—closely knit place/time chapters, as in a Bakhtinian chronotope—clearly benefits from this approach.

The judges agree that this is a wide-ranging work, revelatory in many ways, and demonstrates excellent scholarship on both British and Romantic authors, and the interactions between both. A dexterous book, setting the bar of the study of this phase of Anglo-Italianism high.

Amelia Dale’s The Printed Reader is an enjoyable and wide-ranging study, which coordinates a range of concerns (the novel, reading, material print, psychology, gender) deftly and provides illuminating analyses of texts in relation to these concerns. Focussing upon experiential impressions, and the positioning of the reading body as implicitly female, this work brings together in breath-taking fashion considerations of the material text, the history of reading, philosophies, and eighteenth-century British quixotic narratives. It is a work of the long eighteenth century, with valuable insights into how, precisely, reading in the Romantic period comes to fashion the reading body as female too, which happened in so many reviews as well as works of fiction. In this way, Dale also makes an important contribution to the study of Romanticism, for the way in which she traces the impulses of reading and impressions through from the mid eighteenth century to the Romantic period.

The judges agree that this is a fluent, incisive, and highly original work. The Printed Reader teaches a great deal to those interested in book history and female readerships.

As you will be aware, these two books already show the extremely high level of competition in 2021. However, as far any competition goes, this one must have a winner too. And the winner of the 2021 BARS First Book Award is Gerard Lee McKeever with Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831. The panel of judges unanimously also wants to celebrate the truly exceptional work of Hrileena Ghosh: therefore, we propose that an honourable mention go to John Keats’ Medical Notebook: Text, Context, and Poems.

Before celebrating the terrific research of Gerard, a few words on Hrileena’s study.

Hrileena Ghosh’s John Keats’ Medical Notebook is a carefully researched study of the medical Notebook from Keats’ time at Guy’s Hospital. This is the first annotated edition of the notebook (and surely a long overdue feat) and makes a compelling case that Keats was intensely invested in his medical studies, considering how cosmopolitan and cutting-edge they were, and how they left a profound mark on his life, poetry, and letters. The judges were impressed by the interdisciplinarity of Hrileena’s research: poetry, biography, textual editing, palaeography, stylistics, political and social context, multiple archives, and of course medical humanities (particularly anatomy and physiology). The latter was particularly impressive given it triangulated Keats’ poems and notebook with historical and modern medical knowledge and terminology.

Ghosh takes up the challenge of moving from medicine to poetry and back, in a far from easy feat. The results are convincing and illuminating. What we have here is impressive archival and editorial work: a revelatory, valuable work, important for scholars and students. Ghosh makes an excellent job of it, marrying the observations on the notebooks up in new and revealing ways with how to read Keats’ poetry.

The judges agree that this is a superb work.

And finally, on to our 2021 winner: Gerard Lee McKeever’s Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831. The judges were highly impressed by this book – it’s ambitious, admirably clear, and underpinned by meticulous research and close readings, covering both well-known canonical writers (Burns, Scott, Hogg) and less familiar writers/texts (Baillie, Galt). It’s impressively interdisciplinary: philosophy, historiography, textual criticism and editing history, print culture, politics and religion are all in the mix. The four case studies addressed by McKeever offer representative and complementing foci to the study of ‘improvement’, a complex discourse—or network of discourses, contradictory at times—that the author examines from a cross-sectional standpoint and in several contexts (poetry, drama, short fiction and aesthetic theory, amongst others) and with a cross-temporal approach. As a ‘supreme narrative’ (p. 1), ‘improvement’ and its companion ‘progress’ can be both a metaphor and a practice, moral as well as material ‘idea(l)s.’ McKeever makes an excellent job of weaving several strands of inquiry together, thus highlighting the overarching dialectical complexity of his work.

Dialectics of Improvement is very well-written, robustly argued, and includes an interesting range of authors and subjects. The texts by Joanna Baillie, for example, are not the most discussed or studied of her works, and thus McKeever’s analysis of Baillie really adds a new dimension to the scholarship on her work, as does the focus, in a different way, on a single and well-known poem by Robert Burns. The study is full of moments of brilliant close reading, closely balanced by larger claims about Romanticism.

To sum up, this an excellent work of scholarship, insightful and enriched by many incisive and subtle readings of less familiar texts.

Congratulations to the two short-listed authors for their brilliant work: to Will Bowers and Amelia Dale. Also, congratulations to Hrileena for her outstanding book.

The 2021 BARS First Book Award Judges, 23/08/21