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The Works of Charlotte Smith


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In recent years the central position held by Charlotte Turner Smith during the formative years of the British Romantic period has become increasingly clear. Although Wordsworth rightly foresaw her status as a poet 'to whom English verse is under greater obligations than are likely to be either acknowledged or remembered', in our time her fortune has turned and her poetry has been restored to the canon where it manifests a range of metrical experimentation and intellectual resilience unmatched by any other woman poet of the time.

Less attention has been paid to Smith's eleven novels and two fictional adaptations from the French because few of these have been reprinted until recently, and the majority have never been reprinted at all. This edition, however, will reveal the extent to which Smith's work in this form constitutes as significant an achievement as her poetry, representing the turbulent decade of the 1790s on its social and political, as well as literary, planes with an unparalleled richness of detail and an unblinkered vision. Whatever subgenres of the novel Smith engages - gothic, sentimental, domestic, political - she informs with her distinctive social consciousness, which in an increasingly repressive climate is steadfastly liberal and broadly inclusive. In her concentration on the plight of women and of those dispossessed by warfare Smith stakes claims far in advance of her time.

The same social consciousness and propensity for fictional realism inform the five books that Charlotte Smith wrote for children, none of which has been reprinted before this edition. For scholars increasingly attentive to cultural values embedded in early children's literature, Smith's daring injection of political and class issues into them and her concentration on the natural world as the central text for study will be seen as crucial in the development of this form. Smith writes with a calculated determination to enlarge the sphere of children's comprehension so as to integrate moral, social, scientific and imaginative education.

The Works of Charlotte Smith restores an essential voice in British Romanticism to the prominence she held in her own time, revealing a writer who wrote well in many genres, and, in whatever form she undertook, was innovative with the forms she inherited and strongly influential on those who followed her.

Bibliographical information:

Smith, Charlotte Turner. The Works of Charlotte Smith. General editor, Stuart Curran. Volume editors, Stuart Curran, ... [et al.] 14 vols. Part I, vols. 1-5. Part II, vols. 6-10. Part III, vols. 11-14. London : Pickering & Chatto, 2005-2007.

- Vol. 1. Manon L'Escaut or The Fatal Attachment (1786); The Romance of Real Life (1787). Edited by Michael Garner with assistance from Karla M. Taylor

- Vol. 2. Emmeline, the Orphan of the Castle (1788). Edited by Judith Stanton

- Vol. 3. Ethelinde, or the Recluse of the Lake (1789). Edited by Stuart Curran

- Vol. 4. Celestina (1791). Edited by Kristina Straub

- Vol. 5. Desmond (1792). Edited by Stuart Curran

- Vol. 6. The Old Manor House. Edited by Ina Ferris

- Vol. 7. The Wanderings of Warwick; The Banished Man. Edited by M. O. Grenby

- Vol. 8. Montalbert. Edited by Stuart Curran and Adriana Craciun

- Vol. 9. Marchmont. Edited by Kate Davies and Harriet Guest

- Vol. 10. The Young Philosopher. Edited by A. A. Markley

- Vol. 11. The Letters of a Solitary Wanderer. Edited by David Lorne Macdonald

- Vol. 12. Rural Walks; Rambles Farther; Minor Morals; and A Narrative of the Loss of the Catherine. Edited by Elizabeth A. Dolan

- Vol. 13. Who is She? (1798); Conversations Introducing Poetry, Chiefly on Subjects of Natural History (1804); The Natural History of Birds (1807). Edited by Judith Pascoe

- Vol. 14. Elegiac Sonnets (1784, 1797), The Emigrants (1792), and Beachy Head, and Other Poems (1807); Uncollected poems. Edited by Jacqueline M. Labbe

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