Charlotte Smith: Major Poetic Works
  • Publication Date: May 25, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554812844 / 1554812844
  • 280 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Broadview eBooks are available on a variety of platforms. To learn more, please visit our eBook information page.

Note on pricing.

Request Exam Copy

Examination copy policy

Availability: Worldwide

Charlotte Smith: Major Poetic Works

  • Publication Date: May 25, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554812844 / 1554812844
  • 280 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Immensely popular with contemporary readers, Smith’s major poetic works are foundational texts of the Romantic period. Smith’s innovations in poetic form have also placed her at the forefront of twenty-first-century scholarship on the period. This edition presents her three major poetic works—Elegiac Sonnets (1784–1800), The Emigrants (1793), and Beachy Head (1807). While the significance of these three volumes of poetry was recognized in their own time, this edition suggests that they remain major texts for thinking through such questions as the relationship between public and private; the ethical treatment of refugees and other persecuted people; the position of women in a patriarchal society; and the usefulness of science as a way of making sense of a complex and ever-changing world.

This Broadview edition includes a new critical introduction that takes into account the developments in scholarship on Smith’s work and women’s writing over the past three decades, and it provides readers with a wealth of contextual material for understanding the writer and the social and literary environment within which she wrote, including key works by her precursors and contemporaries, selections from her letters, and reviews of her poetry.


“This welcome edition of Smith’s poetry renders her verse readily comprehensible to those new to it while simultaneously fostering ongoing scholarship. It provides all of the major poems and deftly situates them within multiple illuminating contexts, including a vital appendix that details how Elegiac Sonnets grew across successive editions. The editors’ lucid introduction to Smith’s life, career, and verse offers an innovative account of the poetic persona that won her popular attention. A scrupulous editorial framework consisting of informative footnotes, the illustrations to Elegiac Sonnets, and valuable appendices will facilitate study of her work at every level. This edition will contribute to flourishing attention to Smith’s poetry among those pursuing feminist, historicist, ecocritical, and formalist approaches to the period.” —Sarah Zimmerman, Fordham University

“In their introduction to this invaluable edition, Claire Knowles and Ingrid Horrocks make a strong case for the vital importance of Charlotte Smith’s poetry to both the literary and the socio-political history of the Romantic era. They also show her to be a cosmopolitan poet whose internationalist perspectives and sympathies resonate today. Smith scholars will welcome the comprehensive bibliography as well as the breakdown of the nine Elegiac Sonnets editions that clarifies the publication history of this evolving work. The judiciously chosen appendices reveal Smith as a lodestone of late-eighteenth-century British culture—a writer who revived the English sonnet, mastered blank verse, earned the respect of reviewers, and inspired countless fellow poets to honor her in verse.” —Kari Lokke, University of California, Davis

“Together Claire Knowles and Ingrid Horrocks are ideal editors for a new, much-needed, paperback edition of Charlotte Smith’s major poetic works … Romanticists will welcome Knowles and Horrocks’s equally affordable and expertly edited volume.” — Elizabeth A. Dolan, European Romantic Review

Charlotte Smith: The Major Poetic Works is a well-contoured new Broadview volume edited by Claire Knowles and Ingrid Horrocks. The ‘major poetic works’—Elegiac Sonnets, The Emigrants and the posthumous Beachy Head—set one another off to advantage, showcasing Smith’s formal and perspectival versatility, not to mention the dramatic flair and sense of irony that enliven her fiction and plays. Knowles and Horrocks capably survey the Smith criticism that has accumulated in the three decades since her initiation into the Romantic canon. … The poems themselves are thoughtfully edited, while the appendices lay out a rich context for Smith’s work, fulfilling the editors’ expressed ‘hope’ that their own readers will ‘gain a sense of the writer herself and a better understanding of the powerful reaction she evoked from the late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century reading public’ (p. 42). Appendix B is especially nourishing: well-chosen selections from John Thelwall, Mary Robinson, and Coleridge place Smith in the context of contemporary debate about the ‘legitimate sonnet.’” — Jayne Lewis, Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Charlotte Smith: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Texts

Elegiac Sonnets (1784-1800)

The Emigrants, a Poem, in Two Books (1793)

Beachy Head (1807)

Selected Additional Poems:

  • From Elegiac Sonnets Volume One
      “Thirty-eight. Addressed to Mrs H—Y
  • From Elegiac Sonnets Volume Two
      “The Dead Beggar. An Elegy”
      “The Female Exile. Written at Brighthelmstone in Nov. 1792
  • From Beachy Head (1807)
      “Saint Monica”
  • From The Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott, Bart: Biographical Memoirs (1829)
      “To My Lyre”

Appendix A: Key Precursors and Contemporaries

  1. Thomas Gray, “Sonnet on the Death of Mr Richard West” (1742)
  2. From William Cowper, The Task (1785)
  3. William Bowles, “Sonnet IX. To the River Itchin, near Winton,” (1789)
  4. Jane West, “On the Sonnets of Mrs. Charlotte Smith” (1791)
  5. From [Frances Burney,] Brief Reflections Relative to the Emigrant French Clergy (1793)
  6. Mary Robinson, “Sonnet XLIII,” Sappho and Phaon (1796)
  7. From William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1798-99)
  8. Anne Bannerman, “Sonnet VII,” (1800)
  9. From Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature; or, the Origin of Society (1803)
  10. John Keats, “Sonnet VII: When I have fears that I may cease to be,” (1848)

Appendix B: Contemporary Writing on Smith and the Sonnet

  1. John Thelwell, “An Essay on the ENGLISH SONNET,” Universal Magazine (December 1792)
  2. From Mary Robinson, “Preface” to Sappho and Phaon (1796)
  3. From Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Introduction to the Sonnets,” Poems (1797)

Appendix C: Selections from Smith’s Letters Relating to Her Poetry

    From Charlotte Smith, Collected Letters

    • a. Charlotte Smith to William Davies (25 April 1797)
    • b. Charlotte Smith to Joel Barlow (3 November 1792)
    • c. Charlotte Smith to Joseph Johnson (12 July 1806)

Appendix D: Selected Reviews of Smith’s Major Poems

Elegiac Sonnets

  1. From Review of Elegiac Sonnets, Monthly Review (November 1784)
  2. From Review of Elegiac Sonnets, Gentleman’s Magazine (April 1786)
  3. From Review of The Emigrants, European Magazine (July 1793)
  4. From Review of The Emigrants, Monthly Review, or Literary Journal (December 1793)
  5. From Review of Beachy Head, British Critic (August 1807)

Appendix E: Poetry about Smith Appearing in Newspapers and Magazines

  1. Anonymous, “Sonnet to Mrs. Smith” European Magazine (August 1786)
  2. D., “SONNET to Mrs. Smith, on reading her Sonnets lately published,” European Magazine (August 1786)
  3. Pastor Fido, “On passing the RETREAT of CHARLOTTE SMITH near Chichester, in Sussex,” World (7 August 1788)
  4. “Ticklepitcher,” “Ode to Charlotte Smith,” Morning Post (16 December 1789)
  5. “Oberon” [Mary Robinson], “Sonnet to Mrs. Charlotte Smith, on Hearing That Her Son Was Wounded at the Siege of Dunkirk,” Oracle (17 September 1793)

Appendix F: Tables of Contents for the Volumes of Elegiac Sonnets Published During Smith’s Lifetime

Works Cited and Further Reading

Claire Knowles is a Lecturer in English at La Trobe University.

Ingrid Horrocks is a Senior Lecturer in English at Massey University.