English Literature - Context - The Romantic Period

Contextual information and key writers from the Romantic Period of English Literature.

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The Romantic Period
Years: 1798 ­ 1832
Human knowledge consists of impressions and ideas formed in the individual's
Introduction of Gothic elements and terror/horror stories and novels (See notes
on the Gothic below)
In nature one can find comfort and peace that the manmade urbanised towns
and factory environments cannot offer
Writing emphasising emotion and imagination, rather than logic and scientific
Focus on the sublime in early Romantic writing.
Lyrical ballads
Evil attributed to society not to human nature
Human beings are basically good
Movement of protest: a desire for personal freedom
Children seen as hapless victims of poverty and exploitation
Historical Context:
Napoleon rises to power in France and opposes England militarily and
Gas lamps developed
Tory philosophy that government should NOT interfere with private enterprise
Middle class gains representation in the British parliament
Railroads begin to run
Key Literature/Authors:
Jane Austen, Mary Shelley
Robert Burns, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, John Keats
The Gothic ­ 18th and 19th Century
A genre of fiction that combines elements of horror and romance. Often
includes aspects of melodrama or parody.
Key features are: terror, mystery and the supernatural.
Stock characters include: villains, Byronic heroes, maidens, vampires, monks,
werewolves and ghosts.
Key writers include: Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Eliza Parsons, Jane
Austen (Northanger Abbey), Mary Shelley and Edgar Allen Poe.


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