Wordsworth in Early American Criticism

By Annabel Newton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
BASIC MATERIALS FOR THE STUDY OF THE EARLY FORTUNES OF WORDSWORTH'S WORK IN AMERICA

I

Although Wordsworth, at the end of the period of this study, achieved popularity in this country, and was for a time considered by the American people the leading English poet, he was not always so regarded. He did not achieve immediate favor with the publication of the Lyrical Ballads in 1798. Before 1824 some of the American people had read Wordsworth's poems. Of this number, only a few admired and approved; and they were afraid to express their opinions. At no time has Wordsworth's popularity with the masses in America equaled that of Scott and Byron's during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, as we shall see as this study proceeds. We cannot pick up the popular magazines of this period, such as the New York Mirror, Godey's Lady's Book, the Gentleman's Magazine, and Graham's Magazine, and find long critical articles on Wordsworth or Wordsworth's poems. I have found only an occasional reference to the poet in those issues of the magazines to which I have had access.

In the succeeding pages I shall show that the history of Wordsworth's work in America corresponds roughly

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