The Collected Letters of Robert Southey (Parts 1-4: 1791-1815)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: School of English

Abstract

Research context:
Robert Southey (1774-1843), poet, essayist, historian, biographer, translator and polemicist, was one of the most controversial of all Romantic period writers. He was a central figure in late C18th and early C19th British culture, a time of imperial expansion that saw Britain beset by war abroad and political, social and industrial change at home. Although Southey was a prolific correspondent, his letters have never been published in full. At present, the published letters are available only in out-of-print C19th and C20th selections, the former edited according to C19th conventions, with texts censored and cut. In addition, c.1500 letters have never been published at all.

Aims and objectives:
The Collected Letters will revolutionize this situation, making these important documents available in one place, many for the first time.
The 3200+ letters will be transcribed from original manuscripts, freshly edited and annotated to the very highest standards. c.1500 will be published for the first time, thus providing readers with a vast amount of new information about Southey's life, works and relationships with contemporaries.

The edition will thus fill a huge gap in Southey's writings. It will, furthermore, provide its intended audience of literary scholars and historians with the textual resources essential to future work on his life, works and intersections with his peers - writers, politicians, campaigners and scientists.

Edited by a team of experienced, interdisciplinary scholars, the Collected Letters is an electronic edition and will be published from 2008-12 by the long-established, peer-reviewed specialists Romantic Circles [http://www.rc.umd.edu]. Romantic Circles' involvement is testimony to the project's internationally recognized significance. The technical expertise and financial support provided by Romantic Circles will ensure that the Collected Letters will incorporate the very highest electronic production values and be made available to the widest possible audience on a free-access web-site.

The co-applicants have already carried out a great deal of preliminary research. This application is for funding to allow them to complete the first half of the Collected Letters (Parts 1-4, scheduled for publication 2007-9) and to lay the foundations for the second half. In addition, the project RA will produce supplementary bibliographical databases, making these available on a free-access web-site. They will thus provide a set of unique research tools essential for completion of the Collected Letters and of great value to scholars working on Southey and British Romanticism.

Applications and benefits:
The Collected Letters appears at a time when interest in Southey is increasing rapidly, a situation testified to by the appearance in 2004 of the first major critical edition of his early-mid career poetry (Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793-1810, eds. Pratt, Fulford and Roberts, 5 vols: Pickering and Chatto) and in 2006 by the publication of a new biography (W. A. Speck, Robert Southey: Man of Letters, Yale UP) and the first ever collection of essays devoted to his impact upon Romantic-period culture (Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism, ed. Lynda Pratt, Ashgate). The Collected Letters will build upon these achievements, advancing critical understanding of Southey as a major writer central to a re-historicised, public Romanticism.

The edition will be published serially (2007-2012) and at all stages will fill acknowledged gaps both in knowledge of Southey's life and works and in understanding of his relationships with his contemporaries. It will be consulted by scholars from a range of disciplines: literary critics and historians. It will also become the standard scholarly resource for generations of researchers to come, taking its place alongside the collected editions of the correspondence of his peers, Coleridge and Wordsworth.
 
Title Southey Exhibition, Keswick 
Description Exhibition curated by B.Speck (input from PI and Col) and J.Barnes (Keswick). Display included information on the Collected Letters, artefacts from Oxford and the Wordsworth Trust as well as Keswick's own collections. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2008 
Impact Introduced new members of the public, from the local community and beyond, to Southey's life and works and to research related to and arising from the Collected Letters project. 
 
Description We have completed and published the first half of an electronic critical edition: The Collected Letters of Robert Southey: Parts 1-4 (hereafter CL). CL is the first scholarly edition of the surviving letters written between 1791-1815 by one of the most contentious figures in British culture in the late C18th and early C19th. We have located, newly transcribed (from the original MS if it survives), edited and annotated a total of 2691 letters covering 1791-1815. We have redated letters undated or misdated by Southey (or previous editors), identified the recipients of letters where the recipient was formerly unknown, pieced together letters where fragments survive in different archives. Where possible, we have located replies (most unpublished) to Southey's letters and used these to inform our annotation: eg. 498 MS Rickman letters (Huntington). Our edition makes available for the first time, in one place, newly edited, freshly annotated texts of the 2691 letters written by Southey between 1791-1815. It publishes 1228 letters that have never before been published and provides accurate texts of 538 letters only previously available in censored or inaccurate versions in out-of-print C19th editions. We have written extensive bibliographical and biographical resources as part of CL's critical apparatus, including: bibliographical data on previous editions; biographies of correspondents; lists of letters and correspondents. We have written newly researched biographies for the 134 individuals Southey wrote to from 1791-1815, thus correcting previous inaccuracies (eg. refining birth dates, career/ family histories) and making it possible to get a fuller sense of Southey's participation in a variety of social networks: eg. his connection to Unitarian circles in Bristol and the S. West (via Danvers and Smith) emerges for the first time, thus allowing for a more nuanced understanding of his religious views. We have XML coded Pts 1-4, so that the edition could be mounted by Romantic Circles on a peer-reviewed, free access web-site and thus be accessible to the widest possible audience from academia and beyond. By completing the above, we have filled acknowledged gaps in current knowledge of Southey's life and works and interactions with his contemporaries: eg. CL makes it possible to map his links with writers (eg. Byron, Hays, Kirke White, Montgomery, Wollstonecraft), scientists (eg. Beddoes, Davy), campaigners (eg. Clarkson, Wilberforce), politicians (eg. Fox, Wellington), publishers (eg. Longman, Murray). CL makes available a vast amount of new information on, amongst other subjects: Southey's life and writings, culture, history, politics, religion, science, Hispanism, book history, professionalism, domestic life, the Lake District, empire, war and society, landscape. It thus provides primary materials to facilitate new research in a range of areas now recognised as central to understanding of Romanticism: eg. Southey's letters on Burrington Combe published in CL Pt 1 have led to new research on late C18th writing on pre-history (see Proceedings of Univ. Bristol Spelaeological Society, 25 (2010)). CL consists of 2691 letters written in a wide range of styles: eg. formal, informal, verse, prose, humorous, polemical, public (in journals), confidential. It thus provides evidence of the varied nature of letter-writing and contributes to on-going debates and facilitates future research on the letter's role in culture in the Romantic period and beyond. Moreover, as a large-scale electronic edition, CL contributes to debates about digital editing: eg. methodologies; annotation; how digital texts are read and used. The AHRC funded research for Pts 1-4 laid the foundations for the rest of the project (Pts 5-8: 1816-39), thus aiding its completion: eg. we completed an archival trawl, located and collected a total of c.7000 MS letters by Southey in 215 archives, and completed a database of letters for 1816-39. The AHRC funded research also brought to light several important new caches of Southey manuscripts - including the medical records of his first wife (who was treated at the pioneering The Retreat, York) and an important early notebook - and these will feed into future projects.
Exploitation Route Reviews acknowledge the significance of the Southey Collected Letters for future scholarship: 'monumental ... points the way for future electronic projects' (YWES), 'an invaluable resource' (Romanticism). CL makes it possible for the first time for scholars to see Southey in the round and thus to chart accurately his career, development of his strongly-held opinions on literature, politics and religion, and relationships with contemporaries. It is of use to, and being used by, scholars working on: literature, politics and religion in the late C18th and early C19th; book and publishing history; patronage and literary networks; the circulation of ideas and texts; history of education; regional culture and society; links between the UK and Europe and the rest of the world. As biographer of Nelson, 'Lake' district poet, associate of Wordsworth and Coleridge, the scientists Davy and Beddoes, and the abolitionists Clarkson and Wilberforce, controversial Poet Laureate and author of the first English version of the children's story 'The Three Bears', Southey is also of interest to a non-academic audience both in Britain and internationally, see section on Narrative Impact.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/southey_letters/index.html
 
Description The Collected Letters is published on a free access website and has been used by a wide range of interest groups (as demonstrated by e-mail and phone enquiries to Pratt and requests for assistance): eg. auction houses, libraries, the BBC, booksellers, local media agencies, and members of the general public. Findings have informed a pamphlet by a member of the general public aimed at raising interest in Southey in the Lake District; a bibliography, by a bookseller specialising in naval history, of editions of Southey's Life of Nelson; a BBC iPM programme on Southey and Brazil; a BBC Great British Railways programme on Nottingham; information in auction sales catalogues; the British Library's decision to purchase MSS letters by Southey. In addition, the edition has encouraged and inspired members of the public to engage with the project team and in their own research: eg. someone sent in information from his family archives about a descendant who appeared in the edition's footnotes. It has also led to a request from the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery to work with them to publicise and extend the public's use of their Southey collection.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Edition of Southey's Colloquies 
Organisation Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University 
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Fulford is collaborating with a member of the English Department at XJLU on an edition of Southey's Colloquies (1829), this is contracted to Pickering and Chatto.
Collaborator Contribution Research colllaboration on the editing and production of a scholarly edition.
Impact None to date. Edition contracted for 2016 publication.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Elizabeth Montagu Edition 
Organisation Swansea University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lynda Pratt is a member of the editorial advisory board of the new edition of the correspondence of Elizabeth Montagu. She shares her expertise on letter-editing and digital humanities with the team on the Montagu project.
Collaborator Contribution The Montagu project team share expertise on letter-editing and digital humanities.
Impact None to date.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Humphry Davy Correspondence 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Fulford is collaborating with a partner at Lancaster University on an edition of the correspondence of Humphry Davy, contracted to Oxford University Press.
Collaborator Contribution Research collaboration; co-general editor of the edition.
Impact None yet; edition is on-going.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Laura Mandell Collaboration 
Organisation Texas A&M University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team (and myself) have collaborated with the Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative at Texas A&M on the TEI encoding of The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. I have further collaborated with the Director on upgrading the technical features of the edition post-initial publication (eg. developing a tool to allow the mapping social networks in the Southey circle) on an invited paper (New York, 2013), and on a journal article).
Collaborator Contribution Mutual collaboration and continued development of the Southey Collected Letters as outlined above.
Impact The Collected Letters of Robert Southey: Parts 1-4 Invited paper, Keats-Shelley Association of America sponsored event on 'Romantic Manuscripts in a Digital World', New York, April 2013. Co-authored journal article, 'How to read a literary visualisation', Digital Studies / Le champ numérique, Vol 3, No 2 (2012)
Start Year 2008
 
Description Romantic Circles Collaboration 
Organisation University of Maryland, College Park
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team (and myself) have collaborated with Romantic Circles, based at the University of Maryland, on the production and publication of The Collected Letters of Robert Southey.
Collaborator Contribution Romantic Circles have provided expertise in digital humanities, and in-depth technical advice and support. They have transformed the xml files we sent them and web-mounted them on a free access site (see below). They maintain the edition and also work with myself to ensure it is regularly updated (eg. we are currently working on a new index that maps places mentioned in the edition). They also ensure its sustainability by archiving it and ensuring it is compatible with digital humanities standards.
Impact The Collected Letters of Robert Southey: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3 and Part 4. The collaboration involves work between literary scholars and historians, and experts on digital humanities.
Start Year 2006
 
Description Walter Scott Edition 
Organisation University of Aberdeen
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lynda Pratt is a member of the editorial advisory board for the Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Poems of Walter Scott and shares her expertise in Romanticism and editing.
Collaborator Contribution The partners share expertise in text-editing and Romanticism.
Impact None to date.
Start Year 2014
 
Description 2 papers on Southey by Bolton and Pratt at BARS/NASSR Conference (Bologna) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Over 250 conference delegates attended these 2 sessions, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

Disseminated the funded research and promoted international academic networking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Bolton organised conference on 'Regional Romanticism ', Loughborough, and Pratt and Ward gave papers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact 30 delegates attended the conference, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

Requests for information about the edition increased.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Fulford and Pratt special session, BARS/ NASSR conference, Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Over 100 delegates attended a conference special session on the research, which sparked questions and discussion.

Increase in requests for information about the research and sharing of knowledge with other delegates before and after the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Paper on Southey by Bolton at English and Welsh Diaspora Conference, Loughborough 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Over 50 delegates attended this session, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

Questions asked during and after the conference showed increased interest in Southey and the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Pratt Plenary, paper by Bolton at 'Southey and European Romanticism Conference', Lisbon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact 40 delegates attended a special symposium on Southey, which sparked questions and discussion and promoted new networks.

Promotion of European network interested in Southey.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Pratt invited paper on 'Southey's Books', Institute of English Studies, London, June 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Up to 50 academics attended a day symposium on the Romantic Book, which sparked questions and discussion.

The participants benefitted from the networking opportunity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Pratt paper at 'Editing the Long Eighteenth Century' conference, Glasgow 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact 45 delegates attended a talk, which sparked questions and discussion.

Questions and discussion continued outside the conference session and requests for information about the research increased.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Pratt plenary on Southey, Coleridge Conference, 2008 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Pratt's plenary, along with other papers at the Coleridge conference (which attracts academics and members of the general public with an interest in Romantic literature) sparked questions and discussion.

It led to a rise in numbers of enquiries about the Collected Letters of Southey.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Pratt, invited talk on 'Southey in Europe', University of London, 2009 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact An audience of postgraduates and established academics attended a talk on Southey and Europe. This sparked questions and discussion.

Some of the delegates e-mailed requesting more information to assist with their research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Pratt, keynote 'Coleridge, Southey and Bristol', Friends of Coleridge, Kilve Study Weekend, 2009. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the Friends of Coleridge, a society which brings together academics with members of the general public interested in Romantic period writers, attended a study weekend. Pratt gave a keynote which, along with the event's other talks sparked questions and discussion.

The event promoted and stimulated public interest in the Collected Letters, eg. via e-mail and in-person questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Pratt, keynote on 'Southey's Laureateship', Wordworth Summer Conference, 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact International delegates, including academics and members of the general public, attended the annual Wordsworth Summer Conference. Pratt's keynote lecture, along with the event's other papers and keynotes, sparked questions and discussion.

The dissemination of the research at the event stimulated interest in and enquiries about the Collected Letters of Southey,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Pratt, paper on 'Editing Southey's Letters', British Academy Network Conference, London, 2010. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Academics and ECRs attended a day event on 'Cultural Institutions and Literary Reception in Europe', hosted at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London. The papers sparked questions and discussion.

Enhanced networking opportunities with a group of interdisciplinary scholars.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Radio 4 Interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lynda Pratt was interviewed as part of a programme on Southey's History of Brazil, broadcast on Radio 4's iPM.

There was a rise in e-mail requests for information about Southey.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Southey Exhibition 2008 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Bill Speck, a member of the editorial team of the Southey Collected Letters, worked with Jamie Barnes (then curator, Keswick Museum) on an exhibition about Southey. He was assisted by other members of the editorial team in creating displays and interpretative materials. Over 800 people visited the exhibition in the month it was on.

The exhibition was widely reported in the local media and raised visitor numbers to the museum. It coincided with the 2008 Southey conference and thus helped to raise the profile of that event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008