‘Neither Mute nor Inglorious: Ann Yearsley and Elegy’

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Abstract

This essay considers Ann Yearsley’s engagement with the elegy, a form which made up a significant proportion of her total oeuvre, and with which she engaged throughout her career. The essay argues, following the lead of Donna Landry and William J. Christmas, the importance of considering laboring-class poetry in formal terms, and does this by locating Yearsley’s elegies within a larger tradition of elegiac poetry and exploring the ways in which Yearsley engages with, or not, the traditional requirements of such writing. In doing so it also considers the ways in which Yearsley’s elegiac poetry might contribute to, or form part of, an alternative female tradition of elegy: its conclusion explores the ways in which the intersection of Yearsley’s class and gender might have inflected her engagement with elegiac poetry. This essay also explores a number of recently-recovered and newly-discovered poems by Yearsley, and offers the first critical discussion of several of them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA History of British Working-Class Literature
EditorsJohn Goodridge, Bridget Keegan
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages70-84
ISBN (Print)9781108105392
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Elegy
  • Ann Yearsley
  • women’s writing
  • eighteenth-century elegiac poetry
  • female elegy
  • Romanticism

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