A landmark new essay collection explores the impact of the Peninsular war on British culture and literature during the early 1800s

  • Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A new collection of essays, Spain in British Romanticism, co-edited by Roehampton professor Ian Haywood, has just been published by Palgrave. The book explores the impact of the Spanish war against Napoleon on British literature and culture.

Image - A landmark new essay collection explores the impact of the Peninsular war on British culture and literature during the early 1800s

The collection focuses on British cultural responses to the Spanish uprisings during and after the Peninsular War. The book has three goals: to re-examine literary responses and bring new works into the light; to explore press responses; and to look beyond the Napoleonic wars themselves and into the ensuing period of turmoil.

While there has been academic exploration of literary reactions to the uprisings, press responses to these events have not previously been the subject of study, despite the fact that most people got their information about these and other foreign conflicts from the newspapers and periodicals. Also studied is the Cadiz Memorial, in St. James Park, London. Erected in 1816, it remains the only public monument to the Peninsular War in this country, but quickly became an object of satire.

As the first study on literary responses in a number of years, it brings new perspectives. It looks at some texts by major Romantic poets that have not been considered in light of this subject, such Lord Byron’s The Age of Bronze, while also exploring the responses of other, less well-known figures, such as women novelists and Spanish writers exiled in London.

Additionally, the collection aims to extend the chronological range of this reception beyond the war against Napoleon (which ended in 1814) and onto the subsequent period of turmoil, including uprisings that took place after the end of the Napoleonic rule and the restoration of the previous Spanish monarchy.

Professor Haywood’s chapter, ‘The Spanish “Revolution” in print and image’, focuses on visual responses and references to the conflict, particularly caricature and the mockery of the Cadiz Memorial.

Professor Haywood said, ‘While there are some well-known British literary works which refer explicitly to the Spanish insurrection against Napoleonic rule, prior studies have often limited themselves to just a few prominent literary responses in a relatively small time period. In putting together this collection, my co-editor Diego Saglia and I have tried to increase the range of study to include newspapers and lesser-known literary works, and also to look at how people saw the years following Napoleon’s departure from Spain’.

The book was formally launched at the Spanish Embassy. It emerged from the research network Anglo-Hispanic Horizons, for which Professor Haywood has received sponsorship from Santander.

The University of Roehampton offers courses in English and Creative Writing, History, and Media, Culture and Language.