WELCOME TO READERS
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830 is conceived as a tool for studying literary genealogy but the wide range of material included should make the archive useful for many other kinds of research. It includes verse by many persons not generally regarded as poets: bishops, bluestockings, and barristers; shopkeepers, soldiers, and schoolboys. The database contains thousands of works too topical or otherwise ephemeral to find a place in conventional anthologies and literary histories.
Since the archive focuses on reading as much as writing it can be used to investigate questions like how British writers were received in America, how Elizabethan and Augustan poets were read by romantics, and how canonical writers were read by semi-literate poets. The poems are indexed by genre, topic, and a variety of demographic criteria that allow users to select segments of the common tradition for particular investigation.
Criteria for selecting documents are described in the essays on "Content" and "Tradition" (links to the left); it would be worthwhile to at least glance at these since the archive is selected in unusual ways. A different way to get a sense of its contents is to look at the "Statistical Overview" pages for a bird's-eye view of the selection, arrangement, and distribution of the documents. Or just plunge in: from the TO THE DATABASE menu (above right) select a segment of the alphabetical list and follow the links to authors, texts, and criticism.
Linkages are the essence of literary tradition and this database generates thousands of the sort: who knew whom, and who read what? In addition to ready-made links, you can use indexes on the search pages to find records and series of records, or search the archive using keywords. There are four files in the database, each with its own search page: Texts, Authors, Commentary, and Biographies. For more details, see the "Navigation" essay.
Additional information about the contents, evolution, and rationale of the archive may be found in the "History of the Project" essay. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830 is an ongoing work with new records being added all the time. Please send notices of errors and omissions to the address below.
David H. Radcliffe