Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579-1830  

You have shown to all who shall hereafter attempt the study of our ancient authours the way to success, by directing them to the perusal of the books which those authours had read. — Samuel Johnson, speaking of Thomas Warton's Observations on the Fairy Queen of Spenser.

Bess Award
Renascence Editions

The 25,000 records in this largely full-text database follow developments in English poetry from the publication of the Shepheardes Calender in 1579 down to Spenser's successors among the nineteenth-century romantics. The archive presents poets as readers — imitators and emulators, critics and biographers — engaged with literary traditions that were complex, dynamic, and embedded in social networks.

ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830 begins with series of poems that imitate Spenser and his followers, series that grew and diversified as English literature migrated across time and space. The archive aims to document how each writer was read by contemporaries and successors, gathering over 10,000 poems linked to commentary and biography for more than a thousand writers from all parts of the English-speaking world.

Because its selection criteria are formal (anyone who wrote in Spenserian stanzas or composed an imitation of Gray's Elegy is included) and its scope comprehensive for printed materials in English, this archive comprises a wide-ranging documentary history of English poetry as related in the words of the readers and writers who shaped and reshaped it over the course of several centuries.

To search the database, select from the TO THE DATABASE menu; for information about the contents, structure, and history of database, and instructions for navigating the records, select ABOUT THE PROJECT.