Something Happened: Poetry in England 1750-1800

Barry Wood

Something happened in or to poetry in England in the latter half of the eighteenth century. The Augustan Age (so-called), defined by a neo-classical poetic and characterized by satire, mock-heroic and pastoral modes of expression, gave way gradually to what became known as the poetic of sensibility. The poetry of this era was increasingly preoccupied with personal experience, feeling and sentiment and focused on areas of human psychology, moral and social subject-matter and perspective which differentiated it from neo-classical language, forms and conventions. The break wasn’t absolute; but it prepared the ground for the more radical style and themes of the romantic generation of poets such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats. Depending on the historical-literary point of view, these poets are referred to as “the late Augustans” or more often “the pre-Romantics”. As literary-critical constructs both labels are problematic.

Who were the pre-romantics? What characterised their style and themes? And how did they see themselves? In order to engage with these and related questions we will be considering the work of Thomas Gray, William Cowper and Charlotte Smith; and a clutch of anonymous poems by women poets (“On Being Charged with Writing Incorrectly”, for example) and Hannah More’s “Sensibility”.

Recommended Reading: I will be sending out a small anthology of poems for detailed discussion and also recommend Donald Davie “Introduction” The Late Augustans; and Vincent Quinn Pre-Romantic Poetry.

Day:  Thursdays                            Time: 10.30am – 12.30 am

8 lectures, 6 October – 27 October (Mid-term break: 3 November) 10 November – 1 December.

Venue: (face to face and online)
Cross Street Chapel
Cross St,
M2 1NL

Price for the entire Series (8 Lectures):

Price Concessions Minimum No. Maximum No.
£80 n/a 8 16

Price for Individual Lectures (please note, these are only available if there are still free places)

Please send your MANCENT booking form with accompanying payment to the address below. If you prefer to pay through BACS, please contact the lecturer for further particulars.
Contact details:
Barry Wood, 12 St Brannock’s Rd, Manchester M21 0UP


Adult Education in Manchester and Cheshire