The appearance of the definitive Bonchurch Edition of Swinburne's Works (London: William Heinemann, Ltd.; New York: Gabriel Wells) makes this an appropriate time to publish a new estimate of the poet's genius and achievement. The present study dates, however, in its original form from more than a decade ago. It was set aside deliberately to await the publication, long announced, of the definitive edition; and consequently, while I have, I hope, profited by the various estimates that have appeared in recent years, my impressions and opinions were formed independently of all critical studies of later date than Sir Edmund Gosse's biography, the primary source of information on the poet's life and character. That I have devoted so much space to the tragedies and prose writings is due to the fact that heretofore these departments of Swinburne's work have been very strictly subordinated by critics to his lyrical, meditative and narrative verse. The chief emphasis remains, however, and must always remain upon Swinburne, the lyric poet.
To the authors of all but two of the works mentioned in my bibliography I wish to express my obligations. The exceptions are the two volumes by M. Georges Lafourcade which, I regret to say . . .