But What Did They Eat?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The nineteenth-century painter Benjamin Robert Haydon was convinced that his best works rivalled the masterpieces of the Renaissance – a judgement facilitated by his near-blindness. Standing in front of one of them, his noble, ugly face masked by several pairs of spectacles, he exclaimed: ‘What fire, what magic! I bow and am grateful.’ Wordsworth, who […]

Ragged Bunch of Romantics

Posted on by Tom Fleming

WILLIAM HAZLITT described the act of painting as the purest form of philosophy – learning to draw and paint, we shed our preconceptions and encounter the complexity of a world where no two trees, or two leaves are the same. In Hazlitt’s terms painting is a metaphor for true perception, the Muse of humility and […]

Steeped in Love

Posted on by Tom Fleming

All literary biographies present choices to their authors. How much should one give a documentary, day-by-day account of a life that, as in Wordsworth’s case, may have lasted eighty years? How much should one quote from, and undertake critical appreciation of, the poetry that was the motive force of this particular life? How far is […]

She Longed for Security and Affection

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In May 1824, reflecting on the theme of her new novel, Mary Shelley wrote in her journal: ‘The last man! Yes I may well describe that solitary being’s feelings, feeling myself as the last relic of a beloved race, my companions, extinct before me…’. Prone as she was to melancholia, she had every justification for […]

Experiments In Living

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In her ambitious and enthralling first book, Daisy Hay takes the dynamics of friendship among the second-generation Romantics as her unifying theme. She explodes the myth of the isolated, autophagous poet, showing how these predominantly urban writers (scornfully dismissed by a destructive article in Blackwood’s as ‘the Cockney School’, though they were not Cockneys and […]

Taking Care Of Keats

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The story of Joseph Severn’s association with John Keats has often been told. The promising young artist to whom the Royal Academy gave a grant to study the old masters in Italy; his decision to accompany the sick Keats, who had been medically advised that warm Italy might alleviate his tuberculosis; Severn’s care of his […]

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March