Charlotte Smith and the Sonnet

BookCharlotte Smith and the Sonnet

Charlotte Smith and the Sonnet

Form, Place and Tradition in the Late Eighteenth Century

Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780-1850, 9


November 13th, 2019


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An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and the OAPEN library.

This book offers the first full-length study of Charlotte Smith’s Elegiac Sonnets and clarifies its ‘place’ – in multiple ways – in literary history as a work celebrated for ‘making it new’, yet deeply engaged with the literary past. It argues that Smith’s sonnets are constituted by three intertwined concerns: with tradition, place and the sonnet form itself, whereby the subjects of Smith’s sonnets – across birds, rivers, the sea, plants and flowers – are bound up with the literary context in which she wrote. Charlotte Smith and the Sonnet shows that Smith’s verse engages more deeply with tradition than has hitherto been realised and revises our understanding not only of Smith’s career but also of the sonnet in eighteenth-century England. The book also illuminates Smith’s place in posterity, as a popular poet – influencing figures ranging from Wordsworth and Coleridge to Constable – who was subsequently obscured in literary history. It reveals the complex processes underpinning Smith’s reception and paradoxical position from the late eighteenth century to the present day, and shows that the appropriation of place itself was an important way in which aspects of literary tradition have been negotiated and understood by Smith, her predecessors, contemporaries and successors.

‘She offers fascinating readings of some of Smith’s now long-forgotten precursors, placing the poet within a lively and constantly evolving English sonnet tradition.’
Claire Knowles, European Romantic Review

Author Information

Bethan Roberts is William Noble Postdoctoral Research Associate in the English Department at the University of Liverpool.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. The Eighteenth-Century Sonnet21
2. Tradition39
River Arun53
Other Poetic Landscapes70
3. Innovation81
The Sea82
Breaking ‘the silent Sabbath of the grave’: Sonnet XLIV90
Giddy Brinks and Lucid Lines101
4. Wider Prospect109
Wider Prospect of the Sonnet Revival110
Smith in Posterity: A Fragile Inheritance122
5. Botany to Beachy Head143
Goddess of Botany145
Economies of Vegetation150
Beachy Head161