York Notes Companions: Romantic Literature

John Gilroy  
Pearson Longman
Total pages
June 2010
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York Notes Companions: Romantic Literature
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The literature of the Romantic era is steeped in the politics of revolution and reaction. This Companion looks at first and second generation poets such as Wordsworth, Blake, Byron and Shelley and explores their engagement with the turbulent history of their times. Other genres such as drama, fiction and travel writing are also discussed, with close attention paid to texts by Walpole, Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft. Combining thematic analysis with modern critical perspectives, the volume also includes key contextual sections focusing on “Imagination, Truth and Reason”, “Heroes and Anti-heroes” and “Faith, Myth and Doubt”.


  • Analysis of key texts and debates
  • Extended commentaries provide further in-depth analysis of individual texts
  • Notes contain extra context and explanations of literary terms
  • Historical, social and cultural contexts explored in introductory chapters and alongside discussions
  • Modern critical theory and perspectives in practice
  • Timelines and annotated further reading

Table of Contents

Part One: Introduction


Part Two: A Cultural Overview


Part Three: Texts, Writers and Contexts


Writing in Revolution: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and William Wordsworth

            Extended commentary: Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850), Book IX, lines 436–           504


Revolution, Reaction and the Natural World: Wordsworth and Coleridge, John Clare and William Blake

            Extended commentary: Blake, ‘The Tyger’ from Songs of Experience (1793)


Dramatic writing: Horace Walpole, Robert Southey and Lord Byron

Extended commentary: Walpole, The Mysterious Mother (1768), V.i.312–420


Romantic Verse Narratives: John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Extended commentary: ‘The Rime of the Ancyent Mariner’ (1817), lines 1–40 and 610–17


Romantic Fiction: James Hogg, Thomas Love Peacock and Jane Austen

            Extended commentary: Austen, Persuasion (1816), Chapter 23


Romantic Travel Writing: William Beckford, Lord Byron and Mary Wollstonecraft

Extended commentary: Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796), Letters 16 and 17


Part Four: Critical Theories and Debates 

Imagination, Truth and Reason

Faith, Myth and Doubt

Heroes and Ant-Heroes

Forms of Ruin



Part Five: References and resources



Further reading



Back Cover

5) Romantic Literature

The York Notes Companion to Romantic Literature is a comprehensive introduction to the literature of an era steeped in the politics of revolution and reaction. Examining the works of first and second generation poets such as Wordsworth, Blake, Byron and Shelley alongside drama, fiction and travel writing, the Companion explores the central themes of imagination, truth and reason, heroes and anti-heroes, faith and myth, offering close readings of texts, and guiding students through key literary theories and debates.  Connecting texts with their historical and scholarly contexts, this is essential reading for any student of romantic literature. 

Each York Notes Companion provides:

  • Analysis of key texts and debates  
  • Extended  commentaries for further in-depth analysis of individual texts  
  • Exploration  of historical, social and cultural contexts
  • Annotations clarifying literary terms and events in history
  • Modern  theoretical perspectives in practice  
  • Timelines  and annotated further reading

John Gilroy is a lecturer in English at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and lectures for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education.



Dr John Gilroy (BA Newcastle: MPhil Warwick: Cert.Ed. Leeds) lectures part-time in the English Department of Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. He is a lecturer for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education and is a course director for its international and residential programmes. His most recent publications are contributions on Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats for The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature (Steven R. Serafin & Valerie Grosvenor-Myer eds, Continuum, 2003), Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Poems, 2007 (www.Humanities-Ebooks.co.uk) and Philip Larkin: Selected Poems, 2009 (www.Humanities-Ebooks.co.uk). He is interested in all aspects of British Romanticism and is currently researching material on the significance of early aeronautics in the Romantic period.

Reader Review(s)

"The writing is easy to read and comprehend yet manages to cram in sufficient detail... It covers topic areas very well in terms of different types of Romantic literature."

- Kimberley Simpson, English Student, Warwick University