Album Verses and Romantic Literary Culture: Poetry, Manuscript, Print, 1780-1850

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book


‘Will you write in my album?’ Many Romantic poets were asked this question by women who collected contributions in their manuscript books. Those who obliged included Byron, Scott, Wordsworth, and Lamb, but also Felicia Hemans, Amelia Opie, and Sara Coleridge.  Album Verses presents the first critical and cultural history of this forgotten phenomenon. It asks a series of questions. Where did 1820s ‘albo-mania’ come from, and why was it satirized as a women’s ‘mania’? What was the relation between visitors’ books associated with great institutions and country houses, personal albums belonging to individuals, and the poetry written in both? What caused albums’ re-gendering from earlier friendship books kept by male students and gentlemen on the Grand Tour to a ‘feminized’ practice identified mainly with young women? When albums were central to women’s culture, why were so many published album poems by men? How did amateur and professional poets engage differently with albums? What does album culture’s privileging of ‘original poetry’ have to say about attitudes towards creativity, poetic practice, and the print marketplace? Album Verses and Romantic Literary Culture recovers a distinctive subgenre of occasional poetry composed to be read in manuscript, with its own characteristic formal features, conventions,themes, and cultural significance. Unique albums examined include that kept at the Grande Chartreuse, those owned by Regency socialite Lady Sarah Jersey, and those kept by the Lake poets’ daughters. Album Verses and Romantic Literary Culture shows that album poetry reflects changing attitudes to identity, gender, class, politics,poetry, family dynamics, and social relations in the Romantic period.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages320
ISBN (Print)9780198857945
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2020

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Material Texts


  • album
  • album verses
  • material culture
  • poetry; poetics
  • Romanticism
  • Eighteenth Century
  • manuscript culture
  • print culture
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • patronage
  • occasional writing
  • inscriptions
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Charles Lamb
  • Wordsworth Circle

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