Wordsworth was an eighteenth-century contemporary of Blake and his greatest poetry was composed before Keats had written a line. His impact, however, was not fully registered until the Victorian period, when it became common to place his poetry in the great line of Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton. In part this book examines how it influenced the Victorian poets and novelists who acknowledged its importance to them. However, drawing on a variety of sources from autobiographical memoirs to publishers' accounts, Wordsworth and the Victorians also examines the emergence of Wordsworth as a cultural icon and the various ways in which his reputation was constructed and transmitted through the agency not of literary giants but of critics, scholars, publishers, and latterly the disciples of the Wordsworth Society . For some readers, ranging from Quakers to Anglo-Catholics, Wordsworth was primarily a religious poet. For others, by contrast, his strength was that he was spiritually uplifting without being doctrinally specific, and this study includes testimonies from many who witnessed what Wordsworth had meant to them at times of crisis.
For other readers, who valued the Guide to the Lakes as much as, if not more than, Wordsworth's verse, Wordsworth's importance was that as laureate of Nature he could be pressed into service for the cause of environmental protection. The book finally examines Wordsworth's role, thirty and more years after his death, in the battle to establish the National Trust. This book is intended for students and scholars of Romantic and Victorian literature; publishing history, and those with an interest in the Lake District and the National Trust.
This resourceful, thoughtful and informative book synthesises these various interests in a way that makes for a decidedly new and illuminating approach. We hear a lot these days about 'cultural studies': this is a cultural study of the very best kind. * Alan Shelston, Gaskell Society Journal, 13 * Stephen Gill traces, with academic thoroughness and originality, not just Wordsworth's influence on Victorian writers but also his promotion as 'a marketable commodity'. * The Keswick Reminder * the construction of "Wordsworth", was the work of thousands of anonymous and devoted craftsmen, guided by a preconceived design. Gill's account of this process is absorbing and superbly detailed. ... A poet's most fitting memorial is our continued passionate engagement with his poetry Stephen Gill's stimulating book is nourished by just such an engagement./ Daniel Karlin, Professor of English at University College of London & Ed. of New Penguin Bk of Verse,
1997 TLS Sept 18, 1998 The Romantics Gill's lively and informative new study is an addendum to an by-product of his Life published in 1989. ... The vexed question of Wordsworth's politics is shrewdly discussed. ... What begins as an academic exercise turns into a fascinating debate about the state of the nation, trailing clouds of glory and ghastly Heritage along with it like Marley's chain./ William Scammell, a poet who lives in the Lake District/New Statesman & Society 14/08/98 This fascinating study sheds much valuable light on Victorian literary society and in the nature of fame itself. It is a most stimulating book which anyone interested in English Literature will read to his advantage./ Contemporary Review/ 01/08/98 A book of great learning... a times with a certain wry humour: but it remains consistently appreciative in an exemplary way, seriously attempting to enter Victorian taste and to re-imagine the validity of styles of reading that can seem wholly alien... Gill describes with great verve the rival editions and anthologies that competed to re-create the image of the poet while battling for market share. * Seamus Perry, The Wordsworth Circle Vol.29 No.4, Autumn '98 * It is a book of great learning, though it wears that lightly, and at times with a certain wry humour; but it remains consistently appreciative in an exemplary way, seriously attempting to enter Victorian taste and to re-imagine the validity of styles of reading that can seem wholly alien ... Gill describes with great verve the rival editions and anthologies that competed to re-create the image of the poet whilst battling for market share. * Seamus Perry, The Wordsworth Circle Vol XXIX no4 Autumn 98 * Wordsworth and the Victorians is much more than a literary history. It is a major study of the way in which the Victorians responded to and remade a central part of their Romantic inheritance. And of how that inheritance reciprocally constructed the imagination, the very consciousness, of Victorian men and women. * Chris Brooks, BARS no 16 September 1999 * Within its deceptively slim compass (it sits comfortably in the hand) Gill's book is an outstanding work of cultural history and of literary criticism, of scholarship, of wit, and of understanding. * Angus Easson, University of Salford, Romanticism * the individual testimony that demonstrates Gill's range and energy, even while it authenticates his study, provides frequent comedy, and promotes the wit that enlivens and illuminates this study. Again and again, Gill enables an anecdote or incident not merely to throw light through a chink but to be, through his skill, patience and intelligence, the spark that floods with light an idea or relationship or activity. * Angus Easson, University of Salford, Romanticism * Stephen Gill has produced a scholarly and readable exploration of Wordsworth's presence and influence in the Victorian age, a book that gathers much that was known in detail, yet which is entirely original in its grasp of the century's sweep and of detail, of cultural history, and of literary criticism. * Angus Easson, University of Salford, Romanticism * Gill's high standard prevails again in his new volume Wordsworth and the Victorians * John L.Mahoney, SiR, 39, Summer 2000 * Stephen Gill's Wordsworth and the Victorians is a major addition to that first rank of important books on the poet. * John L. Mahoney, SiR, 39, Summer 2000 * Stephen Gill is well-qualified to make assessments of Wordsworth and the Victorians, and this particular work is much-needed, especially as reconsiderations of the Victorian era will be de rigeur as the twentieth century is dissected by the twenty-first ... Gill's careful and pointed delineation of the Victorians' responses to and admiration of Wordsworth allows us a clear picture of how the Laureate influenced the tastes and motivations of such noteworthies as
Gaskell, Eliot, Arnold, and Tennyson. * Marcy Tanter * Stephen Gill has a keen eye for pulling out relevant details and presenting them in an obvious yet astute manner. * Marcy Tanter * Stephen Gill's fair and keen interpretation of Wordsworth's significance is a fitting tribute to a poet whose importance has not waned. * Marcy Tanter * Of the works describing Wordsworthian influence, pre-eminent was Stephen Gill's cultured and pleasurable Wordsworth and the Victorians, which effectively recreates a lost Wordsworth: the Victorian man of letters and laureate, spiritual teacher and sage for an anxiously secularizing age ... Gill has gathered from remote corners an immense amount of material ... all of which Gill views with an exemplary historical sympathy, not untouched by a spry sense of the
absurd or paradoxical. * The Year's Work in English Studies, Vol. 79 * a book for every Victorianist and Wordsworthian to enjoy, to study, and to use as a basis for future work. * Margot K. Louis, Modern Philology * Gill ... is the author of William Wordsworth: A Life, and it is the biographer's sense of personalities (along with an appealing, vivid, and often wry style) that makes Wordsworth and the Victorians so enjoyable. At the same time, this book has been produced with great scholarly care. * Margot K. Louis, Modern Philology * Gill has provided a firm basis for all further study of Wordsworth's impact on the Victorians. * Margot K. Louis, Modern Philology * the book is impressively rich. Gill's discriminating and exact account of the progress of Wordsworth's reputation unfolds into an entertaining analysis of the ways in which scientists, Quakers, Catholics, worshipers in the Religion of Humanity, and above all High Churchmen attempted to claim Wordswroth as one of their own. * Margot K. Louis, Modern Philology * At once erudite and entertaining, densely detailed yet lucid, Stephen Gill's Wordsworth and the Victorians is an important and delightful work. * Margot K. Louis, Modern Philology *