Ereviews: Romanticism Redefined | January 2012

Romanticism Redefined: Pickering & Chatto and The Wordsworth Circle
Alexander Street Press; alexanderstreet com/products/romr.htm; for a free trial go to alexanderstreet. com/request.htm

CONTENT Focusing on the period between 1800 and 1830, Romanticism Redefined collects 123,481 pages of text from 3,323 publications of the London-based publishers Pickering & Chatto and the complete run of The Wordsworth Circle (updated as new issues become available). The Pickering & Chatto material includes diaries, letters, literary criticism, historical writings, speeches, lectures, travel and exploration literature, political and sociological works, philosophical and theological treatises, and critical essays commissioned by Pickering & Chatto and written by leading scholars of the period.

Titles include Conduct Literature for Women, 1770‚ 1830; Works of Charlotte Smith; Literature and Science; Works of Thomas De Quincey; Nineteenth-Century English Labouring-Class Poets; Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Romantic-Era Psychologists; and Parodies of the Romantic Age. The works of writers such as Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Mary Shelley also make this a resource for the history of women’s literature.

The material, all in-copyright, has been rekeyed to make it full-text searchable, and images of the original pages are included whenever possible.

Usability The opening screen has a toolbar at the top with links to Home, Browse, Search, What’s New, and Help, along with a simple Search box. Below this is a revolving slideshow of featured items, such as Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period (an eight-volume set of narratives by slaves themselves, essays on slave trade, race theories, social, and medical issues, magazine articles, poems, plays, and fiction writings on the subject) and British Satire, 1785‚ 1840, a representative collection of the verse satire published between the mid-1780s and the mid-1830s. From the slideshow users can also choose to Browse All Titles.

The Browse link offers patrons options to peruse All Works, Authors, Poems, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Drama, or the The Wordsworth Circle journal. Clicking on poetry uncovers 2,521 poems ranging from James Chambers’s Acrostic on the Author’s Name, The First He Ever Composed to Charlotte Richardson’s Written Under Great Doubt, and Anxiety of Mind, 1801, both found in Nineteenth-Century English Labouring-Class Poets. The searchable text of each of these poems includes a Page Image link leading to a view of the original printed page.

My first search, for abou ben, located nine results, with one title result that gave me the text of the poem I sought: Leigh Hunt’s Abou Ben Adhem and the Angel, from The Selected Writings of Leigh Hunt, Vol. 6: Poetical Works, 1822‚ 1859. Browsing the author listings for Robert Southey revealed a generous 444 items from 27 works.

After a quick pass through a couple of the Amatory Poems of Abel Shufflebottom, I browsed issues of The Wordsworth Circle, starting with Volume 1, Number 1, Winter 1970, in which appears the essay by the editors The Wordsworth Circle: Past, Present and Future, which describes how the journal was first conceived during some moments of heady conversation in the riotous spring of 1968. It seems fitting that a publication dedicated to the work of the early Romantics had its seeds of germination in that year; the Romantics would likely have approved of the previous year’s Summer of Love, at least in their youth.

Thoughts of that time inevitably led to research on Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Advanced Search allows queries using the usual author, title, and publisher information as well as additional author details (birthplace, nationality, ethnicity, gender) and enables users to search for primary- and secondary-source documents. A series of searches on all three figures unearthed correspondence, notes, political satire, and other writings.

Author searches‚ by birthplace, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and combinations of these‚ ran quickly, and results were clear and revelatory. In other sections of the database, things could be slower, however, and at one point I had to exit and log back in. Using the genre index, I also discovered a hitherto unknown (to me) play by Maria Edgeworth (Whim for Whim), an unpublished satirical poem by William Blake (When Klopstock England Defied), a host of scientific writings about the vertues of coffee, and De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis: Being a Sequel to the Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. The Travel and Exploration genre search yielded several surprises, such as Meriwether Lewis’s History of the Expedition of Lewis and Clark, and Washington Irving’s Adventures of Captain Bonneville.

The What’s New page details when the last update occurred and how much material was added and provides links to that material. It is also possible to subscribe to an RSS feed to receive updates on the latest content added to the database.

Pricing For academic libraries in the United States, subscription prices to Romanticism Redefined are based on type of library, FTE, and budget, with prices ranging from $808 to $4300. For U.S. public libraries, subscription prices range from $1,077 to $8600, based on the population served.

Bottom Line The quality of this content is superb. The linked contextual notes in the texts are a real boon to fledgling Romantics researchers, and the interconnectedness among the authors and their works becomes evident very quickly after doing only a few searches.

For serious, scholarly researchers of the Romantic period, this file will be a slice of heaven. It’s highly recommended for academic, public, and special libraries serving those patrons.

Cheryl LaGuardia is a Research Librarian for the Widener Library at Harvard University and author of Becoming a Library Teacher (Neal-Schuman, 2000). Readers can contact her at

Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.