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Popular Culture, Entertainment and Information in the Early Modern Period

Consultant Editor: Harold Love, Emeritus Professor in the School of Literary, Visual and Performance Studies, Monash University.

Based on Harold Love's recent survey of the genre, this project brings together over 60 substantial manuscript verse miscellanies from libraries all over the world (including the Beinecke Library at Yale, Folger, Harvard, Huntington, Princeton, Badminton House, the Brotherton Library at Leeds, Chetham's Library in Manchester, Edinburgh University Library, the Hertfordshire Record Office and the Victoria and Albert Musem, London).

It provides access to a broad body of popular literature (Tom Cogswell has called it "as close to a mass media as early Stuart England ever achieved") that captures the pulse of everyday life in the late 17th century.

In addition to political subjects of the type made famous by Poems on Affairs of State, 1702-1710, there are also many satires aimed at urban life and the newly emerging metropolitan culture.  Another strong feature is coverage of morality and sexuality - a key issue in the liberated atmosphere of Restoration England - and the poems served a strong normative role as well as providing popular entertainment.

Many of the works are anonymous, but there are also fine examples by Marvell, Ayloffe, Behn, Dryden, Rochester, Dorset, Etherege, Mulgrave, Scroope, Sedly, Vaughan, Baber, Dorset, Eland, Faulkland, Heveningham, Howe, Martin, Mordaunt, Prior, Pulteney, Sheppard, Villiers, Walsh, and Wharton.  

"With the press strictly censored, political and personal commentary of the Restoration period travelled mostly by manuscript. The most favoured form was verse satire which was sometimes brilliant often obscene and invariably vituperative. The present collection contains the sources for several thousand of these poems, many in multiple texts which vary fascinatingly between each other. Many are professionally compiled scribal antholgies written out for rich collectors (and thus easy to read!) but some personal commonplace books are also included. Poets well represented include Rochester, Marvell, Dryden, Dorset, Sedley, Behn and a number of talented lesser figures well deserving of study such as John Grubham Howe and Charles, Viscount Mordaunt; however most `lampoons' were understandably anonymous. This previously submerged genre is of intense interest to historians as well as literary scholars. The collection is a companion piece to Harold Love's English Clandestine Satire 1660-1704 (Oxford: OUP, 2004) which offers both historical and interpretive commentary on the materials and a first-line index to the sources, which serves as a finding list for the collection." 

Professor Harold Love

Emeritus Professor, Monash University

Digital Guide
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