The Line Problem 1: Genesis

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By Laura Whitebell

In Genesis Blake uses ruled lines that he (probably) would have eventually erased all of (you can see evidence of this in the first couple of objects). In the later objects he hasn’t gotten to finishing, the ruled lines are still there and his text often lies under them or is bisected by them, instead of being written on top. There doesn’t seem to be a way to transcribe this, so in the transcription the text always lies on top of the ruled like with an object and/or line note for explanation. The problem is when you have lines being underwritten/overwritten so there are multiple lines under text.

The transcription makes it seem as if there is empty space in the middle of Blake’s text, which there is not. The Blake Archive Editors have decided that we should only transcribe underwriting when it has moved or is somehow different from the top layer. Using this principle Esther and I got rid of the double lines on the transcription that appeared to simply be overwritten in relatively the same place (see object 6 and transcription). This one was left, because it does seem …read more


Publication Announcement – The Book of Thel, copies B and I

By Andrea H. Everett

The Book of Thel, copy B, object 2

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of The Book of Thel copies B and I, in the Mellon Collection, Yale Center for British Art, and Bodleian Library, Oxford University, respectively. The Book of Thel is dated 1789 by Blake on the title page, but the first plate (Thel’s Motto) and the last (her descent into the netherworld) appear to have been completed and first printed in 1790, while Blake was working on The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Copies B and I are from the first of three printings of Thel, during which Blake produced at least thirteen copies, printed in five different inks to diversify his stock. Copy B, for example, was printed in brown ink, copy I in green; both are lightly finished in water colors. Copies from this press run were certainly on hand when Blake included the book in his advertisement “To the Public” of October 1793: “The Book of Thel, a Poem in Illuminated Printing. Quarto, with 6 designs, price 3s.” Copies B and I join in the Archive copies D, G, H, J, L, and R from this first printing, and copy F, …read more


Welcome to Fashionable Diseases Blog

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By GlynisIngram

As this is the first project blog, I thought I’d begin by saying ‘welcome’ to the project – I hope you’ll feel able to join in our discussions in some way, whether through the website, or at our various workshops and conferences. The second thing I’d like to do is to talk about where I got the idea of fashionable diseases, and what on earth that idea might mean.

The title’s easy enough – I work in eighteenth-century literary and cultural studies, and in 2003 I included, in an anthology of literature and science, a piece by a physician called James Makittrick Adair (1728–1801). His essay, first published in 1786, is called on fashionable disease’. At first it was published as part of a collection called Medical Cautions, for the Consideration of Invalids; those especially who resort to Bath, but later reprinted many times and even published as a freestanding volume. It’s obviously a catchy title, and had certainly caught my eye enough to want to publish it, not least because Adair was a popular high society doctor working at the fashionable resort of Bath, and had a lively style calculated to appeal to a general audience. Many medical texts in …read more


Psychopticon …

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Psychobilly music is a mash-up of punk, goth and rockabilly. Its exponents, fans of such bands as Demented Are Go, Creepshow and Hellfreaks, sport brightly coloured extended quiffs – or wedges – often combining impeccable rock n’roll attire with zombie makeup. 1950s Sci-Fi iconography (think B-movie posters) and tattoos also feature heavily. And psychobilly – via complex and very entertaining routes of transmission – can be considered one of Romanticism’s late, and very much undead, cultural forms.

While Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) isn’t a “zombie novel” per se, it develops several motifs that inform psychobilly, and the book looms large in the genre’s collective unconscious. Throw in Romantic dandies and gothic romance more generally, and you’re practically there. I wouldn’t be fulfilling my Romantic responsibilities if I didn’t immerse myself in the form. So here’s my take on the style through alter ego, Elixir Chimera and the Pulpits (all words found on the same page of Frankenstein) …

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British Society for Literature and Science Conference 2014

By admin

The British Society for Literature and Science’s 2014 Conference will take place at the University of Surrey, Guildford between the 10th and the 12th of April. Keynote speakers will include Professor Mary Orr (University of Southampton) and Professor Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto). The Call for Papers and further details can be found here. Proposals of no more than 250 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker, should be sent in the body of messages (not in attachments) to Gregory Tate ( The closing date for submissions is Friday 6 December 2013.

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Drones at Midnight … Wales and the World

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Coleridge’s great cradle poem, “Frost at Midnight”, was composed in Nether Stowey in 1798 while the poet was struggling with the social and psychological pressures of living under state surveillance. The poem describes a seasonal February frost, but alludes also to a wider political frost that Pitt’s repressive government was laying across the country. The poem’s reference to the Frost performing its “secret ministry” is as chilling today – newly chilling – as it was in the midst of the Romantic period’s own war on terror (“terror” then signified by the French Revolution and its anti-monarchist sympathizers).

In today’s Click On Wales (23.9.13) published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA), I discuss a new chill affecting political discussion, particularly where Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – or drones – are concerned. You can read the full piece here.

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Romanticism and Self-Destruction

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By admin

The University of Bristol’s Centre for Romantic and Victorian Studies will be holding a one-day conference on Romanticism and Self-Destruction on May 9th next year, with plenary talks by Andrew Bennett and Caroline Franklin. The Call for Papers can be found on the conference website; 250-word proposals should be emailed to the conference organisers, Stephanie Codsi and Jimmy Packham, at by December 1st.

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John Thelwall Society Conference

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By admin

The recently-formed John Thelwall Society will be holding its inaugural conference, John Thelwall at 250: Medicine, Literature, and Reform in London, ca. 1764-1834, in London between July 25th and 27th in 2014. Full details are available on their website, including information about how to submit paper proposals.

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Metropolitan Institutions, 20-21 September 2013: Programme

By cassieulph

The programme for the second Creative Communities event, Metropolitan Institutions, is now available to download here:

Creative Communities Workshop 2 Final Programme

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Ernest Hartley Coleridge: Proto-Proclaimer

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By Jo Taylor I won’t lie to you: there is a reason why Ernest Hartley Coleridge is not as famous a poet as his grandfather, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ernest is mostly remembered for editing STC’s works, from the earliest publication of selections from the notebooks in Anima Poetae (1896), through a detailed reprint of Christabel (1908) and on to the Complete Poetry in 1912. He published one volume of his own poetry in 1898, and it’s not a collection that really deserves poetic fame.


In the poem below, Ernest describes to his lover how far he would go for her. He’s walk 50 miles. Later, he says he’ll walk 250.

Then, skip forward 80 years, and we find the Proclaimers walking 500 miles:

And now, for all your Victorian-geeky-pleasure for the week, sing Ernest’s poem along with The Proclaimers tune. (If anyone uploads a video of themselves doing just that, I will think of some sort of prize. Probably sweet-related.) The 1st and last stanzas work especially well:

Love in Absence

If I could travel fifty miles,
Then cross a stream and mount a hill,
(I’ve done it mad for joy erewhiles),
I know that I would find her still.

She’s sitting in the window seat,
Her face is resting on …read more