This volume brings together for the first time all the known poems of English writer Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825), a once esteemed but long neglected figure whose career spanned the Age of Sensibility and the Romantic Era. William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft have collected 170 of her poems, including twenty-three previously unpublished and eleven conjectural attributions. This is the first scholarly edition of any writings of Barbauld, a brilliant woman whose interests ranged from literary criticism to history and affairs of state to children’s stories. At the end of the eighteenth century, Barbauld may well have been the most eminent living poet, male or female, in Britain.
Barbauld belongs almost equally to two generations. Her verse displays an eighteenth-century adherence to balance, common sense, and poetic diction and meter, but it also celebrates the individual, the passionate, and the fanciful in a clearly Romantic manner. In the current reconfiguring of Romanticism, Barbauld provides an important contrast to the major male poets who have, until recently, defined the era--poets who clearly acknowledged her influence on their own work, yet who played a role in Barbauld’s lapse into obscurity in the century after her death. Coleridge, before a serious falling out with Barbauld, admired her greatly, and Wordsworth confessed that he wished the final eight lines of her poem “Life” had been of his own composing. Walter Savage Landor ranked her “Summer Evening’s Meditation” among the finest poems in the English language.
Barbauld’s poems have retained their capacity to delight readers; they are witty, learned, imaginative, and unpredictable in both choice and treatment of subject. Read as a whole, this collection reveals a striking variety of style and voice and provides the basis for a major--and long overdue--reevaluation of Barbauld’s poetry. McCarthy and Kraft present unmodernized texts of the poems that reflect as nearly as possible the author’s final intention and give variant readings in textual notes. A lengthy introduction includes a discussion of the poems, a history of their composition and publication, and an outline of Barbauld’s life and writing career.
|Publisher:||University of Georgia Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
William McCarthy is Elizabeth Kraft is a professor of English at the University of Georgia. Among her other books, she is the author of Character and Consciousness in Eighteenth-Century Comic Fiction and coeditor of The Poems of Anna Letitia Barbauld (both Georgia).