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Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain$
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Michelle Levy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474457064

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474457064.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

Lord Byron, Manuscript Poet

Lord Byron, Manuscript Poet

Chapter:
(p.140) Chapter 4 Lord Byron, Manuscript Poet
Source:
Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain
Author(s):

Michelle Levy

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474457064.003.0005

Chapter 4 considers the most popular and commercially successful of the English Romantic poets, Lord Byron, to explicate his continuous and deep engagement with manuscript culture. It begins by offering a quantitative assessment of his use of print publication and manuscript dissemination. Throughout, from his earliest poetic efforts to his last, we find that Byron encountered difficulty in preparing his verse for print and relied on manuscript to circulate his poetry, particularly his short verse. The chapter considers his earliest four verse collections, and then studies the manuscript revisions to the poem that launched his fame – Cantos I and II of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Both examples demonstrate Byron’s early struggle to transition from narrower to wider audiences without compromising his poetic candour. Afterwards, Byron avoided these time-consuming processes of rearrangement and revision by separating his writing into two categories: the handwritten short poems he entrusted to members of his coterie and the longer poems he wrote for the public. This chapter demonstrates Byron’s use of manuscript at all stages of his career, confounding the notion that he can be regarded exclusively as a print author and elucidating the sources of his discomfort with print.

Keywords:   Lord Byron, Manuscript Circulation of Poetry, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Quantitative Methods, Manuscript Revisions for Print, Literary Coterie

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