Labouring-Class Poets

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Stephen Van-Hagen (University of Coventry)
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The term “labouring-class” poets has come to describe poets of working origins who came to prominence in significant numbers during the eighteenth century and thereafter. Following hundreds of years of critical debate about the most appropriate descriptor for them, “labouring class” has become preferred only relatively recently. A clear summary of this issue is provided by William J. Christmas in his monograph 

The Lab’ring Muses: Work, Writing, and the Social Order in English Plebeian Poetry

 (2001: 41-3). As he notes, the critical history of these poets can be traced back to the first time their work was collected, Robert Southey’s 

The Lives and Works of the Uneducated Poets

 (1831), “the first serious and sympathetic discussion of English plebeian poets” (2001: 39).…

10467 words

Citation: Van-Hagen, Stephen. "Labouring-Class Poets". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 March 2007; last revised 02 March 2022. [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

1714 Labouring-Class Poets 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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