Literary Connections: making the right connections with literature
The Romantic Age
Cultural History, with
Byron dressed up
William Wordsworth
Wordsworth in 1805

Lyrical Ballads (1798 edition)
Lyrical Ballads (1798)
(read Tintern Abbey)

Romanticism in English literature

Romantic, when used about English literature and given a capital letter, refers to a period from around 1789 (the beginning of the French Revolution) to about 1832 (the death of Sir Walter Scott). An alternative starting date is the publication in 1798 of Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads. Other major Romantic writers in English included the poets Byron, Blake, Keats, Shelley and Clare and the essayists Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt.

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings (Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 1802 edition)

The Romantic Movement included all the arts and not just literature and it began first on the European mainland. The German writer Goethe is a key figure - inspired in part by Shakespeare - as are the composers Beethoven and Berlioz and artists such as J M W Turner and Caspar David Friedrich. Romanticism rejected tradition in favour of innovation and placed great emphasis on the poet's feelings, on responses to nature and on the power of the imagination - but of course it was more complicated than can be summed up in a few sentences, so make use of some of the books and websites listed here to find out more.

The Romantic Age


Key texts


  • Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period - a brief overview of some issues of the century, including the Tintern Abbey and the landscape, the Gothic, the French Revolution, etc; also some useful extracts, links, etc.
  • Romanticism: an Overview from the Victorian Web - odd though it might seem, this site has a useful overview of the Romantic movement and a section on Some Earlier Authors such as Byron, Wordsworth and Keats.
  • Voice of the Shuttle: Romantics: very comprehensive list of links to Web sites covering Romantic-related material: this includes many scholarly sites and is rather daunting but it's worth exploring.
  • Romantic Circles: 'a refereed scholarly Website devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture' - includes a valuable list of online editions, such as the section devoted to Lyrical Ballads in its many editions, with collations, page images, a bibliography, and much more.
  • Romantic Literary Resources list from Jack Lynch of Rutgers University, Newark: another useful annotated list of links.
  • Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage: "a living memorial to the life and poetry of William Wordsworth" that also provides a wider context.
Finding texts online
See the websites listed above and the usual sources of online texts listed on the literature links page, in particular: