Robert Southey (Paperback)

Entire Man of Letters

By William Arthur Speck

Yale University Press, 9780300197679, 336pp.

Publication Date: July 10, 2006

List Price: 34.00*
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In his lifetime Robert Southey was very much the equal of his fellow “Lake poets,” Coleridge and Wordsworth, but since his death his reputation has been overshadowed by their success. In this new biography W. A. Speck argues that if Southey's poetry is no longer considered as significant, his other writings were more salient and his political views far more influential than those of his fellow poets. He was, as Byron conceded, England's “only existing entire man of letters.”

The book engages with Southey's voluminous publications, weaving discussion of them into the narrative of his life. Speck also explores Southey's entire correspondence, not only that which appeared in the editions edited by his descendants, and finds a man of considerably greater emotional complexity than previously assumed. The first fully rounded chronicle of Southey's life in sixty years, Speck's account sets Southey in historical context and restores him to the map of English literature.