Uncollected Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne

By Rooksby, Rikky | Victorian Poetry, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

Uncollected Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne


Rooksby, Rikky, Victorian Poetry


Uncollected Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne, ed. Terry L. Meyers. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2005. xxvi + 334 pp. (vol. 1), v + 487 pp. (vol. 2), v + 399 pp. (vol. 3). Hardback $475.00; 295.00 [pounds sterling].

Algernon Charles Swinburne, Major Poems and Selected Prose, ed. Jerome McGann and Charles L. Sligh. New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2004. xxx + 498 pp. Paperback. $24.95; 15.00 [pounds sterling]

Back in the early 1960s the late, much-respected Cecil Y. Lang laid the foundation stone for modern Swinburne studies with the six volumes of The Swinburne Letters. At a stroke this exposed the biographies by Gosse (1917), Lafourcade (1932), and Hare (1949) as doing little more than skimming over the life. He went on to edit unpublished and uncollected New Writings By Swinburne (1964) and to select from Swinburne's poetry in the anthology The PreRaphaelite Poets (1975). Both Terry Meyers and Jerome McGann personally acknowledge Lang's assistance to them, his scholarship, and his passing, in two substantial new publications that will inspire Swinburne scholars in the first decades of a new century.

I can personally testify to the importance of Terry Meyers' twenty-five years of labor because he very kindly allowed quotation from some of the letters in this edition for my biography A. C. Swinburne: A Poet's Life (1997). The purple cloth of these three volumes of uncollected Swinburne letters is going to become as familiar a shelf companion as the navy blue of their six predecessors. Each carries an illustration for its frontispiece: volume 1 (1848-74) has an unseen Swinburne/Menken photograph from the late 1860s; volume 2 (1875-89) prints a picture of Swinburne taken at Holmwood in the 1870s, which I first unearthed for VP a few years ago; and volume 3 (1890-1909) has a Rotherstein caricature of Swinburne. In addition to the Index, volume 3 also has a group of undated letters, and two appendices--"Background to a Family Joke," an extended footnote to some of the Disney Leith-Swinburne letters of the 1890s, and some notes and corrections to Lang's edition.

In his introduction, Terry Meyers agrees with Henry James that "everything about such a being as [Swinburne] becomes and remains fascinating" (p. xv). This edition originated in 1970 when he pursued the text of a Swinburne letter whilst working on a Ph.D about Shelley. Meyers pays tribute to his friendship with Swinburne collector John Mayfield, as well as his studies with Jerome McGann. Lang and Mayfield both assisted with some of the details in the copious and often remarkable annotations. Meyers' intention is "to collect all of the letters by Swinburne that have come to light since the last volumes of Lang's The Swinburne Letters appeared in 1962." The new edition includes letters published in journals by other scholars since the 1960s, others from printed sources that Lang (forgivably) missed, and a choice from some 1200 letters to Swinburne known to survive. Meyers adds, "Nearly all of the letters in this edition are previously unpublished and they are collected now for the first time." There is a website which contains extra annotations and corrections at http://www.letrs.indiana.edu/swinburne/.

So, do the Uncollected Letters advance Swinburne studies? And if so, how?

First and foremost, Uncollected Letters prints a group of letters, and other relevant material, that relate directly to the central question of Swinburne biography, namely, the identity of Swinburne's "lost love" (to use Lang's famous title phrase). In volume 3, Meyers annotates a number of letters written between Swinburne and his cousin Mary Disney Leith in the 1890s. Three of these letters were first discussed by Fuller in 1968 and a further seventeen by James D. Birchfield in 1980. Much of this correspondence ("cy merest dozen") is in a playful cypher transposing the initial letters of words, and has numerous flagellation allusions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Uncollected Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.