I am grateful to Professor R. A. Foakes for asking me to write a critical history of Victorian poetry, and for his patience and encouragement while it was being written. The greater part of this book was completed while I held a Chair of English at the University of Southampton. I should like to thank Derek Attridge, Frank Stack, Maud Ellmann, Robert Young, Jonathon Sawday, John Peacock, Laura Marcus, Tony Crowley, Peter Middleton and Ken Hirschkop for creating an academic environment in which it was a pleasure to write. Tony Crowley spared time to read and check parts of the manuscript and I benefited from his suggestions and comment. I am grateful in particular to Maud Ellmann for the warmth of her intellectual generosity. Graduate students now themselves teaching in universities were an inspiring and challenging presence. I owe special thanks to Steve Bamlett, Steve Barfield, Joseph Bristow, Andy Cooper, Tom Furniss, Josephine McDonagh, Carl Plasa, Lindsay Smith, Andrew Thacker and Steve Vine. George Levine and Elaine Showalter both discussed the early stages of this book with me and offered valuable comment. I thank the University of Southampton for providing me with funds for research assistance. Dr Catherine Sharrock’s energy and enthusiasm were as helpful as her meticulousness. Any shortcomings in the book are my own. Alison Hamlin’s patience in preparing the manuscript was as enduring as her cheerfulness. Laurel Brake, Tom Healy, Michael Slater, Andrew Sanders, Carol Watts and Helen Carr provided helpful support during the completion of the book after I moved to Birkbeck College, University of London. Above all I thank P. A. W. Collins for years of inspiration and support.
Parts of this book have appeared in News from Nowhere, vol. 5, 1988, 38-63, Dickens and Other Victorians, ed. Joanne Shattock, Macmillan, 1989 and Tennyson: Seven Essays, ed. P. A. W. Collins, Macmillan, 1992.