Romantic Continuities – Suggestions and Insights

Professor Timothy Webb is writing a new book,  Figuring English Romantic Poets and their Works in Poems from the First World War to the Present. This is an anthology, and he is requesting suggested contributions for the anthology – especially for Byron!

A description of the planned anthology is below. So far, Professor Webb has collected poems about Byron by the following: W. H. Auden, Demetrios Capetanakis, Andy Crofter, N. S. Thompson and thirteen others, Lawrence Durrell, Leontia Flynn, Peter Levi, Edwin Morgan, John Julius Norwich, Peter Porter, F. T. Prince and Susanna Roxman. If anyone has any suggestions to make, especially about Byronic coverage (which is not as strong as it might be and almost ignores the earlier poetry, including Childe Harold), he would be very happy to hear from you! Of course, the same applies to the other poets or to any other relevant issues. Please send all suggestions to him at

Outline of Anthology:

This is an anthology of poetic responses and re-creations of the lives (or, more properly, selected parts of the lives) of the English Romantic Poets, ranging from the First World War to the present. Quotations from academics are deliberately excluded, unless they are poets primarily or as well, such as Seamus Heaney, Lucy Newlyn, David Constantine or Michael O’Neill. The Romantic poets who have most obviously qualified for scrutiny by other poets are: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Percy Shelley, Keats and Clare. In recent times, lesser focus has also been accorded to Moore, Southey, Landor and Hunt. Although De Quincey was exclusively a writer of prose, he has attracted the attention of more than one contemporary poet (unlike Hazlitt or Lamb or Peacock or, especially, the once-fashionable Scott), while the author of Frankenstein (herself not a poet, unlike, say Felicia Hemans or Laetitia Landon or Charlotte Smith) seems to be (with Dorothy Wordsworth) the only woman writer to have received poetic treatment.

For all its apparent exclusivity, I have already discovered well over 200 poems which engage with the Romantic poets, including sequences by Robert Gittings (Keats), Amy Clampitt (Keats), Robert Cooperman (Percy Bysshe Shelley), Lucy Newlyn (the Wordsworths) and a group of fifteen contemporary poets (Byron’s Don Juan). A number of ‘big-name’ poets are candidates for inclusion as contributors: for instance, Owen, Yeats, Auden, Brecht, Geoffrey Hill, Ashbery, Borges, Jaccotet, Hughes, Heaney, Bonnefoy, Lowell, Gunn and Bertolucci. Other notable names include, among many others: Betjeman, Spender, Blunden, Causley, Kennelly, Tony Harrison, Pasolini, Enright, Ewart, Stevie Smith, F. T. Prince, Roethke, Hirsch, Morgan, Davie, Longley, Beer, Fanthorpe, Porter, Sikelianos, Kavanagh, R. S. Thomas, Constantine, Dunn, Mahon, Duffy,  Birtwhistle, Paulin, Szirtes, Muldoon and Greenlaw. Countries other than England are significant contributors: America, Serbo-America (Charles Simic), Australia, India, Africa, Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. All these diverse poems  (many of which are not as well-known as they deserve to be) are of interest in themselves but they also have a lot to tell us about the changing reputations of the poets, the relations between the poets and their lives, and the links between poetry and biography.

This book concentrates on poetry but my introduction and notes will also suggest that a full exploration would need to include the following: drama, films (for the cinema and for TV), art, music of various kinds including opera, musicals, and song-cycles, novels, short stories and children’s literature, not to mention the manifestations of popular culture: restaurants, cafes, hotels, street-names, rock and pop music (Blake is particularly popular in the music world), newspapers, kitchen furniture, hair-dressing salons, graffiti, etc. The Wordsworth Trust has already organized some pioneering conferences to explore some of these possibilities and the unexpected but enduring influence of Romantic examples.