The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton

BookThe Collected Writings of Edward Rushton

The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton


Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 65


October 31st, 2014



Other Formats



The edition brings together the known writings in poetry and prose of Edward Rushton (1756--1814). Blinded by trachoma after an outbreak on the slaving ship in which he was a young officer, Rushton returned to Liverpool to scratch a living as a publican, newspaper editor, and finally bookseller and publisher. In his day Rushton was a well-known Liverpool poet and reformer, with an impressively wide range of causes (the Liverpool Blind School, the Liverpool Marine Society, and many radical political groups). Many of his songs, particularly the marine ballads, were very familiar in Britain and America. In the later Victorian period, as a particular version of romanticism began to dominate literary sensibilities, Rushton’s overt politics fell from favour and he became rather obscure, at least by comparison with his like-minded (but much better off) friend William Roscoe. As the history of slavery abolition and other radical causes has come to be re-examined, the bicentenary of Rushton’s death, falling in November 2014, has suggested an opportunity to take a new look at his remarkable career and impressive body of work. There has never been a critical edition of Rushton’s poems. His own 1806 edition omits much, including what is his best-known work in modern times, the anti-slavery West-Indian Eclogues of 1787; the posthumous 1824 edition omits much from the 1806 collection while drawing in other work. The present edition works from the earliest datable sources, in newspapers, chapbooks, periodicals, and broadsides, providing a clean text with significant revisions and variants noted in the commentary. Unfamiliar words are glossed, and brief introductions and contextual commentaries, informed by the latest scholarship, are given for each piece of writing.


'A very welcome book and one which does justice to Edward Rushton’s remarkable and unique literary achievement.'
John Whale

'Important and long-due, this book will have a significant impact in restoring critical attention to a sadly neglected Romantic-era poetic voice.' Franca Dellarosa, Università degli Studi di Bari ‘Aldo Moro

'The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton (1756–1814), edited by Paul Baines and Franca Dellarosa’s Talking Revolution: Edward Rushton’s Rebellious Poetics 1782–1814 (a first-rate critical biography) taken together, are two volumes that enable Rushton’s work to join a large and sometimes quite riveting body of material at the intersection of working-class poetry and the literary history of abolitionism.'
Jenny Davidson, SEL Review

'Paul Baines’s The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton, is a triumph... space is given to Rushton’s poetry and prose in a manner that allows them to speak for themselves. Baines does not clutter the text with lengthy notes concerning textual variants, history, or glosses, instead confining these to a detailed but concise ‘commentary’ at the end of the volume.'
Matthew Ward & Paul Whickman, Year's Work in English Studies

'[This is] the first modern volume of [Rushton's] collected works (painstakingly edited by Paul Baines)... As Baines pointed out at the 2014 conference marking both the bicentenary of Rushton’s death and the publication of these books, the attempt to collect, collate and rationalise the fugitive poetry of a figure whose work was often ephemeral, unattributed or reproduced without permission on either side of the Atlantic was a formidable one. The scale of this undertaking is evidenced by the 102 pages of commentary that accompany the works themselves.'
Ryan Hanley, The BARS Review, No. 48

'[Baines] brings more attention to this fascinating writer.'
Jeffrey N. Cox, Studies in English Literature

Author Information

Edward Rushton (1756–1814) was a poet, writer, bookseller and abolitionist. After losing his own vision, he opened a school for the blind, the oldest continuous such school in the world. Paul Baines is Professor of English at the University of Liverpool and co-editor of The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Eighteenth-Century Writers and Writing.