Romantic Poets and Gothic Culture

Tom Duggett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on the meaning of “Gothic” and of architectural analogies in the literary-historical and political discourses of the long eighteenth century, routing its discussion through the Preface to The Excursion and Wordsworth’s proposal there to build a “gothic Church” in verse. I relate Wordsworth’s language on Gothic structure to that of contemporaries including Edmund Burke, Anna Laetitia Barbauld and John Carter in order to gauge the cultural significance of the analogy. Focusing in on Burke and the clear opposition between “Jacobins” and “Goths” in the 1790s revolution debate, I show Wordsworth moving from political opposition to cultural affiliation with the “Gothic” view. Outlining a wider “Gothic culture” in which Wordsworth’s poetry became a central text, I conclude by discussing the long withholding and eventual publication of The Prelude in 1850. The reception of the poem by The Examiner as “a poetical Cathedral of Cologne” illustrates the extent to which Wordsworth was by now complexly enmeshed in the Gothic culture he had helped to create.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGothic Romanticism
Subtitle of host publicationWordsworth, Architecture, Politics, Form
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic
ISSN (Print)2634-6214
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6222


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