Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City

By Mulvihill, James D. | Studies in the Literary Imagination, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City

Mulvihill, James D., Studies in the Literary Imagination

The idea of Romantic London is as immense and as contradictory as the idea of Romanticism itself. For William Blake, probably its most visionary observer, it is literally the universe. Blake's London is at once poignantly local, its immediate environs reflecting a life lived almost entirely within certain neighborhoods and districts, and awesomely cosmic, reaching to the bounds of eternity. This twofold perspective suggests that Romantic representations of London, even "Infinite London's awful spires" in Blake ("Milton" Plate C, cancelled), do not define themselves in absolute opposition to more mundane accounts--for instance, Lockie's Topography of London, giving a concise local description of and accurate direction to every square, street, lane, court, dock, wharf, inn, public-office, &c. (1810)--but occupy a common, if narrowly overlapping, ground. The London writings of John Corry (1760?-1825?) locate themselves somewhere in this overlap. As the tentative dates indicate, little is known about Corry (Pitcher 152-60). What is known is that he was an Irish journalist working in Dublin until the 1790s when he went to London where he eventually operated as a bookseller and publisher on Princess Street in Leicester Square. Corry's complete canon has yet to be established, but he wrote poetry, novels, biographies, histories, and satires. A Satirical View of London and The English Metropolis constitute his main writings on London, though the novel-like Memoirs of Edward Thornton, subtitled A Sketch of Modern Dissipation in London, must also be included in this group. While not dealing specifically with London, on the other hand, a number of local and municipal histories written by Corry--The History of Liverpool, The History of Bristol (which he co-authored), and The History of Macclesfield--have obvious generic relevance, while satiric works like The Detector of Quackery and Satire Made Easy deal with subjects central to a thesis about urban culture emerging from the London writings.

To speak of such a thesis in Corry, however, is to speak only in terms of a formative critique. The vein in which Corry wrote typically fashions itself from disparate popular tendencies, at once current and outdated, censorious and panegyrical, moralizing and analytical. It is this inchoate nature, however, that makes Corry's London writings if not exemplary of a coherent criticism of urban culture, then suggestive of such a criticism in its early stages. This essay sees Corry as working broadly within established topographical traditions while responding to new demographic realities in urban Romantic England.


Memoirs of Edward Thornton presents a familiar tale of the city, relating the moral progress of Edward Thornton, a young country gentleman who decides to complement his formal education by experiencing life in London. To that end, his father arranges an introduction to a worldly Londoner with a satiric bent named Mr. Weston who serves as Edward's guide, accompanying his young charge through London's drawing-rooms and dens of vice alike. After a series of misadventures involving gamers, gold-diggers, and loan-sharks, however, Edward finds happiness with one Miss Wilmot--a virtuous young lady living just outside of London in rustic Bellevue, a country seat described as "the abode of female virtue and beauty" (20)--but only after almost losing her as a result of his misadventures in the city.

Involving as it does a visit to an exotic new place, Memoirs of Edward Thornton is more than a simple moral tale. Corry's hero is a classic ingenue with antecedents in famous traveler-innocents like Swift's Lemuel Gulliver and Montesquieu's Hindoo traveler--in effect, an Englishman abroad in London--just as the native Londoners he encounters are wholly foreign to his rustic perspective. In "'Why Go Abroad?' Djuna Barnes and the Urban Travel Narrative," Justin D. Edwards describes what he terms "urban exposes," under which rubric he includes both fiction and journalism, as a "new subgenre of travel writing" starting from the same assumptions about otherness as traditional travel narratives: "In other words, because the urban travel text attempted to reclaim slums and poverty-stricken areas for middle-class understanding, they took on the techniques of the traditional travel text by setting up an artificial dichotomy between 'norm' and 'other,' center and margin" (7). …

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

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
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.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

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

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City


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?

Full screen

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

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, 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."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    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.

    Author Advanced search


    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.