The age begin in 1798 with the publication of 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 of literature of the Romantic Period
- After the France Revolution, it was accepted that individuals was free and equally important.
- Small industries disappeared and large industries with huge capital started.
- Machines were widely introduced in coal and iron mines which multiplied production.
- Stream engines were used in ships and trains. The train was first introduced in 1830.
- Industrialization created lots of slums, child labor and labor problems.
- The traditional social pattern started changing.
- Ireland was united with England in 1801.
- In 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act was passed and religious equity was ensured.
- Use of machines in fields of industries made a large number of women jobless; of them, many became either readers or writers.
- In 1840 the Penny Post was introduced.
Major Writers and Their Major Works of Romantic Period
• William Blake (1757-1827)
“Songs of Innocence” (1789)
“Songs of Experience” (1794)
• William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
“Lyrical Ballads” (1798)
“The Prelude” (1850) and other poems
• Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
“Biographia Literaria” (1817)
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) and other poems.
• Jane Austen (1775-1817)
*She is an anti-romantic novelist in the Romantic age .
She is called so because of her stern attitude against youthful passion.
“Pride and Prejudice” (1797)
“Sense and Sensibility” (1797-98)
“Mansfield Park” (1814)
• Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
“The Essays of Eila” (1823)
“The Last Essays of Eila” (1833)
• Willam Hazlitt (1778-1830)
*He was a famous critic
“The Dramatic Literature of the Age Elizabeth” (1820)
“The Spirit of the Age” (1825)
• Lord Byron (1788-1824)
“The Vision of Judgment” (1822)
“Don Juan” (1824)
• Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
“Prometheus Unbound” (1820)
• John Keats (1795-1821)
“Endymion “ (1818)
“Odes and Other Poems”
Main literary features of Romantic Period
- Creative enthusiasm reached almost the level of Elizabethan creative force.
- It shifts its focus from earlier age’s faith in reason to faith in senses, intuition, and imagination.
- Subjective Poetry replaces the objective Poetry of the neo-classical age.
- It values common, “natural” man and rejects artificial urban life as the subject of poetry.
- The language of the common man, not the artificial “poetic diction” of the previous age, becomes the choice of the time.
- It idealizes country life and “natural” becomes a means of divine revelation.
- Romantic poetry reflects a rebellious view against oppression, restraints, and controls. It celebrates human rights and individualism.
- Romantic Literature shows interest in the medieval past, the supernatural, the mystical, the “gothic” and the exotic.
- It emphasized introspection, psychology, melancholy, and sadness.
- Myth and symbolism get prominence.
- In style, Romantic Poetry prefers spontaneity and free experimentation to strict conventional rules of composition, genre, and decorum. It prefers the highly suggestive language to the neo-classical ideal of clarity and precision.
- Lyric poetry dominates.
- Women fiction flourishes. Mrs. Anne Radcliffe, Jane Porter, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen are female writers of the time.
- Criticism becomes an inseparable part of literature. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Lamb, De Quincy and Hazlitt contribute to it.