Re-Viewing Thomas Holcroft, 1745–1809

Essays on His Works and Life

Re-Viewing Thomas Holcroft, 1745–1809 LOOK INSIDE
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  • Edited by Miriam L. Wallace, New College of Florida, USA and A.A. Markley, formerly of Pennsylvania State University, Brandywine, USA
  • Series: British Literature in Context in the Long Eighteenth Century
  • Thomas Holcroft was a central figure of the 1790s, whose texts played an important role in the transition toward Romanticism. In this, the first essay collection devoted to his life and work, the contributors reassess Holcroft's contributions to a remarkable range of literary genres–drama, poetry, fiction, autobiography, political philosophy–and to the project of revolutionary reform in the late eighteenth century. The self-educated son of a cobbler, Holcroft transformed himself into a popular playwright, influential reformist novelist, and controversial political radical. But his work is not important merely because he himself was a remarkable character, but rather because he was a hinge figure between laboring Britons and the dissenting intelligentsia, between Enlightenment traditions and developing 'Romantic' concerns, and between the world of self-made hack writers and that of established critics. Enhanced by an updated and corrected chronology of Holcroft's life and work, key images, and a full bibliography of published scholarship, this volume makes way for more concerted and focused scholarship and teaching on Holcroft. Taken together, the essays in this collection situate Holcroft's self-fashioning as a member of London's literati, his central role among the London radical reformers and intelligentsia, and his theatrical innovations within ongoing explorations of the late eighteenth-century public sphere of letters and debate.
  • Contents: Introduction, Miriam L. Wallace and A.A. Markley; Part 1 Becoming a Man of Letters: Developmental stages: Thomas Holcroft's early fiction, elocutionary rhetoric, and the function of the theater in the progress of character, Rick Incorvati; Holcroft and the art of sinking in poetry, Anne Chandler; Holcroft's translations of the 1780s and Isabelle de Montolieu's Caroline de Lichtfield, Miriam L. Wallace. Part 2 Reform on the Stage: Rewriting Shylock: Thomas Holcroft's semitic discourse and anti-semitism on the English stage, Jeremy W. Webster; 'Perfectly harmless and secure'?: the political contexts of Thomas Holcroft's He's Much to Blame, Philip Cox; Illustrating Thomas Holcrft's A Tale of Mystery as physiognomical tableaux vivant, Diane Long Hoeveler. Part 3 Reform in the Novel: Language and landscape in Thomas Holcroft's Anna St Ives, Ian Newman; Examining Jacobin sexual politics in Anna St Ives, Hilary N. Fezzey; Contradictory strictures: print, speech, and the problem of mediation in Holcroft's Hugh Trevor, Jonathan Sachs. Part 4 Re-Viewing the Life: Thomas Holcroft and reviewing traditions, Antonia Forster; Transforming experience into reform in Holcroft's Memoirs and literary works, A.A. Markley; Politics for the people: Thomas Holcroft's proto-Marxism, W.M. Verhoeven; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Editor: Miriam L. Wallace is Professor of English at New College of Florida, and A. A. Markley was Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, Brandywine, USA.
  • Reviews: 'Re-Viewing Thomas Holcroft is a valuable contribution to the study of literature of the 1790s… the organization of the collection is thoughtful and provocative, suggesting connections - between genres or between Holcroft’s work and his life - that might otherwise pass unnoticed. The essays are excellent; they provide readers with a model for thinking not only about Holcroft’s work but also about other writers who, like Holcroft, may not receive adequate critical attention.'
    Restoration and Eighteenth Century Theatre Research

    'This strong collection of essays, which displays great range and sensitivity, is a key text in Holcroft studies. It will appeal to any scholar of labouring class writing; political philosophy of the 1790s; the Georgian theatre; life-writing; the novel; and poetry of the long eighteenth century.'
    Review of English Studies

    '… this is a long overdue and very welcome contribution to eighteenth-century studies.'
    Modern Language Review