While the canon has, among the Romantics, paid attention almost exclusively to men (Shelley, Blake, Wordsworth, etc.), there were a number of talented and important female poets whose work was an integral part of the Romantic era. Felicia Hermans, Mary Robinson, and Charlotte Smith, among others, were widely read, critically respected, and influential among their fellow poets. This collection, then, is a crucial recovery of a body of work that has heretofore been unavailable in one volume. It would be impossible to give an appropriate amount of detail in this brief review, but an excerpt from Ann Radcliffe's transcendent poem "The Sea-Nymph" will perhaps suggest the depth of the worlds to be discovered in British Women Poets of the Romantic Era. "And with my sister-nymphs I sport, / Till the broad sun looks o'er the floods; / Then, swift we seek our crystal court, / Deep in the wave, 'mid Neptune's woods."
During the Romantic period, women such as Joanna Baillie, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Felicia Hemans, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Mary Robinson, Anna Seward, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Tighe were among the most highly respected and widely read practitioners of the art of poetry. In fact, Hemans was one of the bestselling authors of the nineteenth century, and Baillie was the foremost playwright of her time.
In British Women Poets of the Romantic Era, Paula R. Feldman introduces modern readers to the range and diversity of women's poetic expression, making available more texts by more women poets of the Romantic era than have ever been collected in a single book in the twentieth century. Feldman provides detailed introductions for each of the sixty-two poets, chronicling their lives, poetic careers, and critical reputations. This groundbreaking volume not only documents the richness of their literary contributions but also changes our thinking about the poetry of the English Romantic period.
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