The Romantic Period section of Norton Topics Online offers resources for the exploration of three of the most important influences on Romantic thought: the picturesque splendour of the British landscape, the sinister atmosphere of the Gothic, and the apocalyptic expectations aroused by the French Revolution.

Suggested uses of Norton Topics Online: The Romantic Period with The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition (anthology page references for the new Seventh Edition are included below):

Tintern Abbey, Tourism and Romantic Landscape

William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey NAEL8.2.258
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison NAEL8.2.428
  Frost at Midnight NAEL8.2.464
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alastor NAEL8.2.745
  Mont Blanc NAEL8.2.762
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage NAEL8.2.617
John Keats, To Autumn NAEL8.2.925
Dorothy Wordsworth, The Alfoxden Journal NAEL8.2.390
  The Grasmere Journals NAEL8.2.392
John Ruskin, Of the Pathetic Fallacy


Tintern Abbey, Tourism and Romantic Landscape illustrates the Romantics' developing interest in nature, as background not only to Tintern Abbey and other poems by William Wordsworth but to Coleridge's conversation poems, Dorothy Wordsworth's journals, Percy Shelley's Alastor and Mont Blanc, Byron's Childe Harold, and Keats's To Autumn, among others. This topic cluster features paintings and prose descriptions of Tintern Abbey and the Lake District which provide the basis for comparisons with poetic evocations of these landscapes. Looking forward in time, students may wish to evaluate the contents of this section in light of Ruskin's idea of the pathetic fallacy, or, looking backward to the seventeenth century, trace the development of nature poetry from Denham's Cooper's Hill.

The Gothic

George Gordon, Lord Byron, Manfred NAEL8.2.635
  Don Juan NAEL8.2.669
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner NAEL8.2.430
  Christabel NAEL8.2.449
John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes NAEL8.2.888
Thomas De Quincey,Confessions of an English Opium Eater NAEL8.2.554
John Milton, Paradise Lost NAEL8.1.1830

The Gothic introduces a genre that both influenced Romantic poetry and, in its day, far outstripped it in popularity. This topic cluster explores signs of Gothic influence in some of the most frequently read works of Coleridge, Byron, and Keats. The fascination with the Orient that characterizes Gothic works such as Vathek can be traced in the later works of Byron and Fitzgerald.

The French Revolution: Apocalyptic Expectations

William Wordsworth, The Prelude NAEL8.2.322
William Blake, A Song of Liberty NAEL8.2.121
  A Vision of the Last Judgment NAEL8.2.124
Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Song: "Men of England" NAEL8.2.770
  England in 1819 NAEL8.2.771
  To Sidmouth and Castlereagh NAEL8.2.771
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman NAEL8.2.170
William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming NAEL8.2.2036
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia NAEL8.2.2753

The French Revolution: Apocalyptic Expectations provides an introduction to what Shelley called "the master theme of the epoch in which we live." A companion to the section on The French Revolution and the "Spirit Of The Age" in the Norton Anthology (Seventh Edition), this topic cluster emphasizes the apocalyptic expectations which led the first generation of Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake) to regard the French Revolution as a prelude to the end of history, heralding a new epoch or a return to paradise. The texts gathered here also shed light on Shelley's radical poetry, and will allow students to assess the influence of the Revolution on writers as diverse as Wollstonecraft, Hazlitt, and Carlyle. The apocalyptic expectations of the Romantic poets resonate with the earlier writings of Winstanley and Coppe, as well as with the twentieth-century poetry of Yeats; students wishing to discover more about the importance of millenarian ideas in English history may also explore the The Meaning of the Millennium: Apocalyptic Visions and Revisions in the Twentieth Century section of Norton Topics Online.

Romantic Orientalism

William Blake, The Little Black Boy NAEL8.2.84
  The Tyger NAEL8.2.92
  The Book of Thel


Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


  Kubla Khan


George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage NAEL8.2.617
  Manfred NAEL8.2.635
  Don Juan NAEL8.2.669
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab, Alastor NAEL8.2.745
  Ozymandias NAEL8.2.768
  Prometheus Unbound


John Keats, Endymion


  The Eve of St. Agnes NAEL8.2.888
  Lamia NAEL8.2.909
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein NAEL8.2.961
Edward Fitzgerald, Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám NAEL8.2.1213
Salman Rushdie, The Prophet’s Hair


The Romantic Period in Britain is now recognized as a time of global travel and exploration, accession of colonies all over the world, and development of imperialist ideologies that rationalized the British takeover of distant territories. Romantic Orientalism provides additional background materials to enhance the reading of Romantic poems and fictions and suggest how those poems and fictions connect with the political and s

ocial concerns of their real-life historical contexts.

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