Romantic Period (1798-1832) in English Literature

Mofizur Rahman

Romantic Period (1798-1832) in English Literature or Romanticism

History of English Literature
Romantic Period (1798-1832) in English Literature
Major Works of English Romantic Period
Major Writers of Romantic Period

Romantic Period (1798-1832) in English Literature

Romantic Period

The age began in 1798 with the first edition of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads and ended with the first Reformation Act in 1832. However, it is worth noting that the signs of Romantic literature came into view around 1785 when William Blake started writing his Songs of Innocence.

This period is also called the Revival of Romanticism because the romantic ideals of the Elizabethan Period revived during these years. Lyrical Ballads brought about a great change in literature, both in subject and style. Instead of urban people and grand style, rural people and common language were preferred.

The important facts which influenced the literature of this period are:-

1. After the French Revolution it was accepted that every individual was free and equally important.
2. Small industries disappeared and large industries with huge capital started.
3. Machines were widely introduced in coal and iron mines which multiplied productions.
4. Steam-engines were used in ships and trains. The train was first introduced in 1830.
5. Industrialization created lots of slums, child labour and labour problems.
6. The traditional social pattern started changing.
7. Ireland was united with England in 1801.
8. In 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act was passed and religious equity was ensured.
9. Use of machines in fields and industries made a large number of women jobless; of them many became either readers or writers.
10. In 1840 the Penny Post was introduced.

Major Writers of the Period and Their Major Works:-

William Blake

William Blake (1757-1827)
  1. Songs of Innocence (1789)
  2. Songs of Experience (1794)

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
  1. Lyrical Ballads (1798)
  2. The Prelude (1850) and other poems

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
  1. Biographia Literaria (1817)
  2. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) and other poems.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (1775-1817)
* She was an anti-romantic novelist in the Romantic Age. She is called so. because of her stern attitude against youthful passion.
  1. Pride and Prejudice (1797)
  2. Sense and Sensibility (1797-98)
  3. Mansfield Park (1814)
  4. Emma (1816)

Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb(1775-1834)
  1. The Essays of Elia (1823)
  2. The Last Essays of Elia (1833)

William Hazlitt 

William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
  1. * He was a famous critic.
  2. The Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth (1820) The Spirit of the Age (1825)

Lord Byron 

Lord Byron (1788-1824)
  1. The Vision of Judgement (1822)
  2. Don Juan (1824)

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
  1. Prometheus Unbound (1820)
  2. Adonais (1821) and other poems

John Keats

John Keats (1795-1821)
  1. Endymion(1818)
  2. Hyperion (1820)
  3. Odes and Other Poems
  4. Letters

Main Literary Features of the Age:-

1. Creative enthusiasm reached almost the level of Elizabethan creative force.
2. It shifts its focus from earlier age's faith in reason to faith in senses, intuition, and imagination.
3. Subjective poetry replaces the objective poetry of the neo-classical age.
4. It values common, “natural” man and rejects artificial urban life as subject of poetry.
5. The language of common men, not the artificial “poetic diction” of the previous age, becomes the choice of the time.
6. It idealizes country life and “nature” becomes a means of divine revelation.
7. Romantic poetry reflects rebellious views against oppression, restraints, and controls. It celebrates human rights and individualism.
8. Romantic literature shows interest in the medieval past, the supernatural, the mystical, the “gothic,” and the exotic.
9. It emphasizes introspection, psychology, melancholy, and sadness.
10. Myth and symbolism get prominence.
11. In style, the Romantic poetry prefers spontaneity and free experimentation to strict conventional “rules” of composition, genre, and decorum. It prefers highly suggestive language to the neoclassical ideal of clarity and precision.
12. Lyric poetry dominates.
13. Women fiction flourishes. Mrs. Anne Radcliffe, Jane Porter, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen are female writers of the time.
14. Criticism becomes an inseparable part of literature. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Lamb, De Quincy and Hazlitt contribute to it.

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