Essays in Romanticism

The Power of Gossip from Mary Robinson’s Tabitha Bramble to Lyrical Tales

Essays in Romanticism (2021), 28, (1), 57–74.

Abstract

This essay focuses on the often overlooked, if not derided, comic tales of Mary Robinson, arguing their centrality to the poetic and political project of Lyrical Tales (1800). It does so in two ways: first, by repositioning Robinson’s use of the pseudonym Tabitha Bramble, not as an off-key performance of Tobias Smollett’s original character, but as an empowered voice authoring her own tale, and, second, by correcting the commonplace critical assumption that the revised poems in Lyrical Tales remain Tabitha Bramble poems. Attending to Robinson’s careful revision process enlarges a critical understanding of Robinson’s relationship to female voice, from her reimagined Tabitha Bramble in newspaper verse to her reclamation of gossip in Lyrical Tales.

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Author details

Jones, Shelley A. J.