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Algernon Charles Swinburne

Selected Writings

Edited by Francis O'Gorman

Publication Date - June 2020

ISBN: 9780198858775

736 pages
8.5 x 5.4 inches

In Stock


This volume in the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series offers students and readers a comprehensive selection of the work of Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). This authoritative edition presents students with a new, more complete, more challenging, but also more credible Swinburne than ever before.

This edition presents the first rigorous scholarly edition of a substantial selection of Swinburne's work ever produced. Swinburne was one of the most brilliant and controversial poets of the nineteenth century: a republican; a scorner of established Christianity; a writer of sexual daring; a poet of loss and of love. Yet he is also the most misunderstood poet of the Victorian period. This new edition, with substantial editorial material, presents a new and convincing portrait of a man sharply different from what is usually said of him. Beginning with his unpublished 'Ode to Mazzini' (1857) and ending with his last major critical work on The Age of Shakespeare (1908), this edition offers Swinburne in the round--a man of astonishing consistency whose formal innovations and critical penetration remain persistently engaging as well as provocative. A major introduction explores Swinburne's complicated reaction to the scandal of his first major collection, Poems and Ballads (1866); his life-long commitment to radical voices (Blake, Hugo, Landor, Shelley); his permanent hostility to tyranny; his sense of literature as a living form and of the heroic personality of the artist; his dazzling art criticism and adroit analysis of Renaissance and modern literature; his exceptional elegies for dead friends; his burlesques and richly atmospheric fiction and drama. The edition draws on rich contemporary sources, manuscripts, and the diverse print culture of Swinburne's day, as well as moving through ancient and modern languages that Swinburne wrote with fluency.

Explanatory notes and commentary are included to enhance the study, understanding, and enjoyment of these works, and the edition includes an Introduction to the life of Swinburne.


  • Introduces students to the life and work of Algernon Charles Swinburne
  • Swinburne's work is presented in chronological order, allowing students to study his development and growth as a poet
  • The poems and writings are presented free of annotation on the pages, allowing students to encounter the original texts afresh
  • Explanatory notes and commentary are located at the end of the book, providing students with a wealth of additional material and information that will enhance the understanding and enjoyment of these works
  • An essential teaching resource, representing Swinburne's work in all its variety
  • A major critical introduction argues for Swinburne's consistency and his life-long complicated negotiation with his own poetic beginnings, and places his politics and aesthetics as part of the same brilliantly consistent whole
  • Covers every significant genre in which Swinburne worked from his political argument to burlesque; from roundel to monologue to 'Greek' dramatic poetry; from critical prose to fiction

About the Author(s)

Francis O'Gorman, Professor in the School of English, University of Edinburgh

Francis O'Gorman has written widely on English literature chiefly from 1780 to the present, and mostly, but not exclusively, on poetry and non-fictional prose. His recent books include editions of Gaskell's Sylvia's Lovers (Oxford World's Classics, 2014), and Trollope's The Way We Live Now (Oxford World's Classics, 2016). He edited The Cambridge Companion to John Ruskin (CUP, 2015) and, most recently, volume 5 of Edward Thomas: Prose Writings: A Selected Edition (OUP, 2017). His Worrying: A Cultural and Literary History (Bloomsbury, 2015) was a Guardian 'book of the week'. Francis O'Gorman was educated at the University of Oxford as Organ Scholar of Lady Margaret Hall and is now Saintsbury Professor of English Literature at the university of Einburgh.


"With a lively introduction, expertly chosen selections, and a commanding scholarly apparatus, this volume presents a vital poet to a new generation of scholars and students. The full range of Swinburne's long and never-boring career is represented in bursts of poetry and criticism, from the unspeakably beautiful and fearsomely inventive to the politically confused and aesthetically derivative-all of them, for different reasons, fascinating. This definitive edition will help readers know the fullest version of our most enduring literary iconoclast." -- Nathan K. Hensley, Georgetown University

"Francis O'Gorman's excellent edition is the ideal introduction to Swinburne, presenting a generous representative selection of his poetry and prose that includes his best-known work along with some less familiar but significant texts. Meticulously edited and contextualized, this is an edition that will be of enormous value to established scholars and new students alike." -- Catherine Maxwell, Queen Mary University of London

"O'Gorman's handsome tome is an editorial feat that gives proportinate representation to all Swineburne's phases from the 1850s to the Edwardian period. ... The edition samples iconic poems and pivotal essays whilst recalibrating the Swinburne canon by including obscure yet fascinating work. The mixing of genres according to a rough chronological order offers a panoramic view of Swinburne's development and thematic concerns." -- Notes and Queries

Table of Contents

    Ode to Mazzini
    Of the birth of Sir Tristram, and how he voyaged into Ireland (Queen Yseult)
    Letter to the Editor of The Spectator, 7 June 1862 (pp.632-3) [on George Meredith s Modern Love, and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads]
    Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal (The Spectator, 6 September 1862)
    Dead Love (1859)
    Atalanta in Calydon (1865)
    from Preface to A Selection from the Works of Lord Byron (1866)
    from Poems and Ballads (1866)
    Laus Veneris
    The Triumph of Time
    Les Noyades
    Hymn to Proserpine
    The Leper
    Before the Mirror
    The Garden of Proserpine
    Dedication, 1865
    from Mr Arnold s New Poems (1867)
    From Chapter 2, Lyrical Poems , William Blake: A Critical Essay (1868)
    from Notes on Designs of the Old Masters at Florence (1868)
    from Notes on the Royal Academy Exhibition, 1868 (1868)
    from The Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1870)
    from Songs Before Sunrise (1871)
    Super flumina Babylonis
    Mentana: First Anniversary
    The Litany of Nations
    Before a Crucifix
    Cor Cordium
    In San Lorenzo
    On the Downs
    An Appeal
    from Simeon Solomon: Notes on his Vision of Love and Other Studies (1871)
    Tristram and Iseult: Prelude of an Unfinished Poem (1871)
    from Victor Hugo s L Année terrible (1872)
    from Bothwell (1874)
    from Songs of Two Nations (1875)
    from Diræ
    A Choice
    The Augurs
    A Counsel
    from Report of the First Anniversary Meeting of the Newest Shakespeare Society (1876)
    from Note of an English Republican on the Muscovite Crusade (1876)
    The Sailing of the Swallow (1877)
    from Poems and Ballads, Second Series (1878)
    The Last Oracle
    A Forsaken Garden
    Ave Atque Vale: In Memory of Charles Baudelaire
    Memorial Verses on the Death of Théophile Gautier
    Sonnet (With a Copy of Madamemoiselle de Maupin)
    In Memory of Barry Cornwall
    Cyril Tourneur
    A Ballad of François Villon, Prince of All Ballad-Makers
    A Vision of Spring in Winter
    The Epitaph in Form of a Ballad, which Villon made for Himself and his Comrades, Expecting to Hanged along with them'
    From A Study of Shakespeare (1880)
    from Songs of the Springtides (1880)
    On the Cliffs
    from Specimens of Modern Poets: The Heptalogia or The Seven Against Sense: A Cap with Seven Bells (1880)
    The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell
    Poeta Loquitur (c.1880n)
    from Studies in Song (1880)
    After Nine Years
    Evening on the Broads
    By the North Sea
    Emily Brontë (1883)
    from A Century of Roundels (1883)
    In Harbour
    Plus Ultra
    The Death of Richard Wagner
    Plus Intra
    The Roundel
    Wasted Love
    Before Sunset
    A Flower-piece by Fantin
    To Catullus
    Insularum Ocelle
    from A Midsummer Holidayand Other Poems (1884)
    IX. On the Verge
    Lines of the Monument of Giuseppe Mazzini
    Les Casquets
    In Sepulcretis
    On the Death of Richard Doyle
    A Solitude
    Clear the Way!
    from Poems and Ballads, Third Series (1889)
    March: An Ode
    To a Seamew
    In Time of Mourning
    The Interpreters
    To Sir Richard F. Burton (On his Translation of the Arabian Nights)
    A Reiver s Neck-Verse
    The Tyneside Widow
    Recollections of Professor Jowett (1893)
    from Astrophel and Other Poems (1894)
    A Nympholept
    Loch Torridon: To E.H.
    Elegy 1869-91
    Threnody October 6, 1892
    A Reminiscence
    Hawthorn Dyke
    The Ballads of the English Border
    from A Channel Passage and Other Poems (1904)
    The Lake of Gaube
    In a Rosary
    Trafalgar Day
    Cromwell s Statue
    On the Death of Mrs Lynn Linton
    Russia: An Ode
    The Transvaal
    Dedication of ACS s Poems (London: Chatto & Windus 1904)
    from The Age of Shakespeare (1908)
    Christopher Marlowe