In its earliest and most primitive forms, the Jackson Bibliography of Romantic Poetry was a tool in an experiment to consider Romantic poetry in English--and by extension, literary history in general--in a new way. While accepting the confines of traditional period divisions, it aimed to enable scholars to write what Robin Jackson called "a history of poems rather than of poets" by setting canonical works in the context of their contemporary rivals. The first task was to identify the rivals, not by relying on the opinions of the major authors or on secondary criticism, but by scouring the lists of publications of the time year by year. In the process, thousands of poems gradually resurfaced and with them, hundreds of women writers, hundreds of provincial authors in Britain, and many more hundreds of poets based in North America whose works were published both at home and abroad. (Works are here defined as "American" or "Scottish" according to the place of publication, not to the birth or citizenship status of their authors.) In its current enlarged state, the Bibliography is still a tool for innovation. In the following paragraphs, a brief history of the work outlines its strengths and limitations. A revised version of the statement of editorial policies and practices follows, then a brief account of some of the features of the new version launched in 2020, and acknowledgments of indebtedness incurred over many years.
The modest origin of this bibliography was a list of titles compiled from the monthly reviews of "Original Poetry" that appeared in two London journals, the Monthly Review (1749-1845) and the Critical Review (1756-1817). The list was so instrumental in shaping Jackson's Poetry of the Romantic Period (1980) that he summarized key findings from it in an annotated "Chronological Table" at the end of the book. In 1985, having realized that the full list might be useful to other students of the period, he published an expanded version as Annals of English Verse 1770-1835, in which the original reviews were supplemented by information from the most comprehensive printed library catalogues of Britain and America, as well as from reliable single-author bibliographies. But the focus was still on works published in the British Isles and the new list depended more than ever on second-hand reports of books, not on first-hand examination. Furthermore, the printed national catalogues were at just this point being superseded by electronic resources, specifically the Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) and the Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalogue (NSTC).
For the next iteration of the list, Jackson drew on those new resources but also radically reconceptualized his project. He wanted to find out what difference it might make to refine his results by pursuing a manageable subset of the complete list, digging deeper than before for one group of writers and confirming the existence of their works by personally examining as many as possible. He settled on women writers as a neglected group of a reasonable size. Starting with roughly 450 named authors, he claimed to have doubled the number by the time he published Romantic Poetry by Women 1770-1835 in 1993. By that time, too, the list was fully transatlantic, if not global: it covered books published in English by women writers in North America as well as in Britain, along with a few produced in other countries such as France and India.
Romantic Poetry by Women (RPW) represented a real breakthrough. It was more ambitious but at the same time more sharply focused than the earlier bibliographies. Since it was based almost entirely on first-hand examination of copies, it avoided the risks associated with derivative second-hand records. It aimed to be comprehensive within its mandate and therefore reverted to the initial topic of "original" poetry, excluding work that had first been published before 1770. It thus became properly a bibliography of Romantic poetry--not all the poetry made available to readers during the period but all the new poetry they might be reading. Jackson also introduced biographical headnotes, at most a paragraph long, reasoning that so many of the women authors were "utterly unknown" that readers deserved at least some guidance about where they could start their own investigations. Though this policy risked putting the poets back in the picture, the aim had never been to eliminate the personalities and histories of the poets, only to try to correct the distortion created by a famous name.
Each phase of the project of listing poetry published for the first time in the Romantic period had taken advantage of new technologies and research tools, especially the newly online library catalogues. The next step was to take the bibliography into the digital age by applying the lessons of RPW to all writers and turning the existing print lists into a database. Again Jackson found that by going into archives and libraries to examine individual copies, he greatly increased the number of authors and titles included. (At present, there are approximately 23,000 book records and over 5000 named authors--that figure excluding anonymous unattributed works--over 800 of whom are women.) He was particularly pleased by the transatlantic character of the expanded list, pointing out that it more accurately registered the reading practices of the time, since "the literary culture remained essentially undivided until well into the nineteenth century." The construction of the first version of the database, launched in 2006, was made possible with the support of the University of Toronto Libraries and by their Information Technology Services under the supervision of Sian Meikle.
Some of the apparent limitations of the database were deliberate, for example the exclusion of volumes under ten pages, of musical scores, and of annuals or gift books: these were policy decisions taken at an early stage, generally for practical reasons. Others were accidental and regrettable. No record was kept of illustrations. The record of prices is spotty. In a list compiled over the course of over forty years, first by a single scholar in sickness and health, and then by others who had not been part of the planning process, inconsistencies are to be expected. With this warning, we ask the user's indulgence and trust that the effort that has gone into making the bibliography as comprehensive and informative as it is will compensate for occasional flaws.
After more than a decade, ITS decided to relaunch the database, enhancing searching capabilities and adding new facets for search by nation and by sex of author, as well as updating the visual design. The current academic contributors Heather Jackson and Sharon Ragaz welcomed the opportunity to improve it further, on the model of RPW, by adding short biographical headnotes for all known authors--that group taking in anonymous or pseudonymous works to which names can be more or less reliably attached--with the same reasoning as in RPW. The vast majority of the writers included in the bibliography are "utterly unknown" to literary history, though well known figures such as Byron, Keats, Landon, and Moore are covered as well. Sharon Ragaz took on Scotland and Heather Jackson North America. At the time of relaunching in 2020, headnotes were available for half the alphabet, A through M, for those countries; by the end of 2021, they were complete for the whole alphabet. The work will continue with new batches of names being added as they are available.
For an outline of and directions for the new search functions, consult the User Guide.
EDITORIAL POLICIES AND PRACTICES
Users who want more than the general guidelines that governed the selection and organization of materials in this bibliography (as they are outlined above) will find details in the following paragraphs. Headings represent the several "categories" or standard parts of every record from the earlier online version, with the addition of new ones to deal with the recently added biographical materials. The former are in the words of the first compiler, Robin Jackson, with only minor revisions. It may be worth noting--also in his words--that there still exists one class of books outside the system, namely works that have been included on the basis of reliable reports such as contemporary reviews but that have not yet been examined: their records "do not follow the conventions described here and follow instead the conventions used by the references on which they were based." We know that they did exist but copies are hard to come by. In a small number of cases, no extant copy is recorded in WorldCat or elsewhere, but these rare titles do still turn up from time to time, described tantalizingly in booksellers' catalogues as "not in Jackson."
Names of authors are given as they appear on the title-pages. They may be expanded for clarification with editorial additions in square brackets, for instance "Mrs. [Sarah] Richardson." If they are derived from within the book or from another source, they are given in square brackets. As the ways in which they are rendered often vary from book to book, it will be most effective in searching for all but the most common names to use only the surname in the first instance. The names of authors of anonymous or pseudonymous works, if the authorship is known, are provided in square brackets; they too can be found by seeking the surname alone. Surnames such as McLeod (sometimes given as M'Leod) are normalized as McLeod. The additions Jr., Jun., Sr., Sen., and Senr. are normalized as Jr. and Sr. respectively. In the Author entry, "Other Names" refers only to other names by which an author may be identified in this bibliography (on account of varying spellings on title-pages, for instance) and not to other names by which the author might have been known elsewhere, such as married women by their maiden names. The software used for the first version of the database could not accommodate the diacritics used in foreign names and although the new version can, for the time being, such names--fortunately few--are still listed without them, Major André as Major Andre for instance, and François Fénelon as Fenelon.
The punctuation of titles has been preserved, but the lineation has not. Long titles are generally abbreviated unless abbreviation would obscure their meaning. Where the name of the author is presented as part of the title it is usually replaced by points of ellipsis. Capitalization of titles has been normalized: substantives, adjectives, non-copula verbs, and adverbs are routinely capitalized, while articles, conjunctions, prepositions, and copula verbs are not unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence or following a colon. When a book has an engraved title-page as well as a printed one, information is derived from the printed one.
Editor(s) or Translator(s)
The names of editors are given as they appear on the title-pages or presented in square brackets if they are derived from within the book or from another source. The names of translators are treated in the same way, but are preceded by the abbreviation "Trans." The term "editor" has been used to identify anyone--for example, the writer of a preface or introduction or preliminary memoir, or a member of a supervising committee--who may be thought to have presided over the publication.
Place(s) of publication
Place-names are accompanied by names of states or of counties (usually in square brackets) if there is more than one place of the same name. In the cases of London, New York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Oxford, Cambridge (England), and Philadelphia, the place-names are allowed to stand alone. In the cases of Boston and Baltimore, it may be assumed that the American cities are meant; their namesakes are identified as Boston (Lincs.) and Baltimore (Cork). When there is more than one place of publication, the places are divided by slash marks (London/ Oxford/ Cambridge). If no place of publication is given, the notation "[no place]" appears. Even in those cases, however, it has always been possible to assign the book record to a country for filtering purposes.
There are few more vexed questions in the publishing history of this period than the identification of the publisher, since the wording on title-pages varies and may be misleading. "Printed by" designates the printer and "sold by" the bookseller; in the absence of a person or firm whom the book was explicitly "printed for," we have generally described the work as having "no publisher" or as having been printed "for the author." Names are given as they appear on the title-pages, with the same normalizations of names like McLeod and additions like Jr. and Sr. as indicated above under "Author(s)." It will be safest to search for publishers by surname only, and to allow for legitimate variant spellings such as "Kearsley" and "Kearsly." If there is more than one place of publication, the publishers from each will be divided from one another by slash marks (Longman/ Vincent/ Deighton) and presented in the same order as the places of publication they accompany.
Dates of publication
The dates of publication are given as they appear on the title-pages. If the date is known but does not appear on the title-page it is presented in square brackets. Library catalogues routinely provide speculative dates in square brackets; in this bibliography these speculations are gratefully and silently adopted. The danger of this practice is not merely that mistakes are bound to be made, but that when cataloguers speculate about dates they have a tendency to choose round numbers (1800 rather than 1801 or even 1805). The effect of this understandable practice is to increase greatly the number of books given dates that are divisible by ten or five. Users who are interested in developing chronological statistics of publication are advised to treat square-bracketed dates with caution.
The editions listed in the bibliography have been verified by first-hand examination. Therefore the presence of second, third, fourth, and fifteenth editions does not mean that the fifth to fourteenth editions never existed, only that no copies have been found. Some such gaps may be a reflection of the contemporary publishing practice of inflated claims, but those cases are not very common.
Editions are so described (as 2nd edn., 3rd edn., new edn., etc., and, rarely, 1st edn.) only if the information is derived from the title-pages of the books in question. Library catalogues sometimes rely on inference, but that practice is avoided here. Some single-author bibliographies usefully distinguish between books that claim to be one edition but are actually another. As a general rule, we have not added that information; if it had been available for all authors it would certainly be worth adding, but having it for only a few works seemed to be potentially misleading.
Format (page size)
Rather than the traditional designations 8vo, 4to, 12mo etc., we use the dimensions of the title-pages (e.g., 10 x 17 cm.). The page size is recorded in centimetres, the top edge being given first, followed by the right-hand edge. The measurement is rounded up to the nearest half-centimetre to allow for the difficulty of making an exact measurement of the top edge. Where either edge is damaged or irregular in shape, the nearest undamaged or regular part is measured instead. Because so many books of the period are made of wove paper that lacks chain lines and wire lines, it is not possible to make a quick judgment as to which traditional format they are in; hence the current short-title catalogues of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are bedevilled by the appearance of seemingly variant editions--termed by one library octavo and by another duodecimo--that are in fact identical. Using measurements does not entirely do away with this difficulty (the size depending on the way in which the pages have been cropped) but does at least give an unambiguous measurement of the copy being recorded.
Pagination or volume(s)
When a book is made up of more than one volume, the pagination is not recorded, only the number of volumes. In some cases, if the volumes have been published in different years or have some other sort of independence from one another, the pagination may be given as if they were separate titles. Pagination is recorded as it appears in the book in question, without much attempt to normalize. If the preliminaries are numbered i-xii, followed by three blank pages and then by the main text numbered 1-194, the pagination should be recorded as xv + 194. When, as is often the case especially with American imprints, the numerical sequence of the roman-numeral preliminaries is continued in the arabic-numeral text (for example, i-xii + 13-194), the total number of pages is given (194). No record has been kept of deficiencies in page numbers at the beginning of preliminaries (for instance, if they begin at v instead of i and go on to xii, they are recorded simply as xii), but if the deficiency occurs at the beginning of the regular numbering of the pages of the text (starting, for instance, at 6 rather than 1 and going on to 194), it is (6-194). When an edition is a subscription edition, the fact is noted either in the Comments section or directly after the page numbering, because the presence of a list of subscribers usually adds materially to the number of pages. When a book contains a mixture of prose and verse an indication is usually given of their relative proportions.
When the price is given in the book itself, it is recorded without further comment. When it has been taken from another source, such as a review or bibliography, the source is provided in the Reference line. This information is provided when readily available, but the results are unsystematic and necessarily incomplete. The English Catalogue of Books . . . 1801-1836 offers prices for many titles of those years, but its information should be used with caution.
When information about the books has been provided from a source or from sources beyond the books themselves, a Reference is provided. The commonest ones are reviews in periodicals, often because they record prices; others, such as Halkett and Laing (HL), identify anonymous or pseudonymous authors. The List of Abbreviations gives the full form of each abbreviation. Information from the catalogues of libraries where the books are found is not separately acknowledged.
The libraries used are generally recorded in abbreviated form; the List of Abbreviations identifies them more fully. This bibliography is a record of particular copies, but the fact that the copy being recorded is found in one library rather than another is a matter of convenience and not an indication of rarity.
Shelfmarks of books in most libraries appear in slightly variant forms. The advent of online catalogues sometimes produced further modifications. Books in a fragile condition that are kept in boxes or protective envelopes are sometimes issued to readers along with the boxes or envelopes and sometimes not. It is often the case that the shelfmark on the container does not exactly match the shelfmark on the book. These differences are not usually much of a problem, but for what it is worth, an attempt has been made in recording them to use the shelfmark on the book. When a work is bound with others in a comprehensive or guard volume, its place in the volume is indicated by a numeral in parentheses following the shelfmark--for example 992.e.43(4), indicating that the work being described is the fourth item in the volume with the shelfmark 992.e.43. Online catalogues vary in practice, however, and it is practical if ordering these books to try first by leaving off the number in parentheses.
Ultimately, our goal is to provide headnotes for all the authors identified as having published original poetry in the period. Well known authors who wrote in languages other than English--notably, classical writers such as Homer and Virgil and major canonical writers such as Petrarch and Dante--are not given headnotes. For less well known modern authors such as Körner and Kotzebue, where there might be doubt about their nationality, a very brief identification is provided. We do not normally include the translators of earlier works into English verse or the editors of others' works whether old or new, but we have admitted a few translators as authors of some influence in their own right--and in that case they will have headnotes. Although some "prior" authors (those whose poetry was published before 1770, such as Pope and Akenside) find their way into the bibliography because they are included in anthologies that also contain new verse, biographies are not usually provided for them. These writers, already canonical at the end of the eighteenth century, are in any case easy to trace in standard reference sources.
In the relatively few years between RPW and the latest version of the online bibliography, there has been a digital revolution in the resources available to historians and biographers--online archives, digitization of primary sources, and specialist databases that earlier scholars hardly dreamt of. Though we adopted the model of the one-paragraph headnotes of RPW, we have been able to draw on all the resources of the internet as well as on traditional reference works and all but a handful of Jackson's headnotes for RPW have been rewritten. As he pointed out in the Introduction to that book, despite the emphasis on first-hand examination for the book records, "the facts in the headnotes are not in any sense first hand." Like him, we have turned gratefully to the well documented materials of the major national biographies ONDB, ANBO, DIB, and DCB, and in many cases have sought no further. Like him and like them, we have always cited our main sources (though not necessarily all sources) so that users who want to dig deeper may have an idea of where to start. For the huge majority of authors about whom little is known and on whom we spent most of our time and energy, we have routinely gone to the prefatory and paratextual parts of the books themselves, to WorldCat, to the genealogical sites ancestry and findmypast, to ESTC and NSTC, to the RLF archives, and to Google and Google Books. Beyond those, specialist studies and websites take over, as will be evident from the last lines of our entries. Apart from the basics of name, education, and family, we have focused on the subjects' literary careers even if they are now better known as educators, lawyers, artists, politicians, or physicians.
Headnotes signed AA are by Andrew Ashfield.
At almost every stage of the development of this bibliography, financial support from the Government of Canada, particularly the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, was vital to the labour-intensive process of compiling the list and travelling to libraries to examine individual copies. Some time and money came also from Victoria College and the Department of English at the University of Toronto.
With each successive publication, Robin Jackson included personal acknowledgments to the students, friends, colleagues, assistants, librarians, booksellers, and others who had smoothed his way, as well as to institutional sponsors. A smaller team has been responsible for the relaunch, which was spear-headed by Sian Meikle at first, but then taken over with panache by Leslie Barnes as project manager. Gordon Belray once again acted as the graphic designer, and Mohammed Hechanova was our expert application programmer, succeeding Bella Ban. All the others thanked in multiple prefaces still deserve their share of thanks for helping to create the content in the first place.
One of the most diligent and creative of the scholars who made a friend of Robin and has continued to this day to be a friend to the enterprise is Andrew Ashfield, known to us as AA or WW depending. He has been the silent improver of many dates and details, especially for women writers, and we thank him wholeheartedly. He is also the author of all the headnotes signed AA.