The Presence of the Shelley's in the Brontës' Juvenilia

Young, J.E. (2019) The Presence of the Shelley's in the Brontës' Juvenilia. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis examines the juvenilia of the four Brontë siblings. It considers them primarily as readers, whose own work developed through their rewriting of the texts which they read. It proposes that, from 1829 onwards, a narrative about Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley was available to the Brontë family through the periodicals and newspapers they had access to. It then shows how this narrative informed the writing of the juvenilia. To date, there has been no single, systematic exploration of a Shelleyean presence in the Brontës’ work. This thesis brings together scholars’ occasional and isolated recognitions of Shelleyean influences, alongside a wealth of new evidence, with the aim of demonstrating that the Brontës’ engagement with the Shelleys was more pervasive and significant than has hitherto been realised, and that the Brontës’ works should therefore be understood as having both a Shelleyean and also a specifically female literary heritage.

Considering examples of well-known textual borrowings in the juvenilia, such as those involving Napoleonic or Byronic narratives, I define a writing framework within which the Shelleys might be placed. This writing model involved borrowing from a source text to create a new work, where those borrowings might be structural, thematic or linguistic. Giving consideration also to wider Romantic writing practices, I explain how this practice of borrowing from, and responding to, certain Shelleyean narratives was intended to be recognised by the reader. Drawing on Helen Small’s recognition of a slight linguistic parallel between Mary’s The Last Man and Emily’s Wuthering Heights, this thesis proposes that the work of all four siblings demonstrates linguistic and thematic similarities with that of the Shelley’s published lives, as well as with elements of their work and poetry. As both readers and writers, the Brontës were, it is argued, fully a product of, and fully engaged with, the print culture of their time.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Guy, Josephine
Green, Matthew
Keywords: Bronte, Shelley, Juvenilia, Byron, Victorian, Romantic, Female heritage, writing practice, Blackwood's Magazine
Subjects: P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 55893
Depositing User: Yandell, Julie
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 10:32
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2021 10:15

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