In the second decade of the nineteenth century, the British press began a campaign of critical abuse against Leigh Hunt, caricaturing the radical journalist as an upstart "Cockney" author whose literary talents were as disreputable as his politics. Lord Byron, on the other hand, was revered as a peer and a poetical genius who, the conservative press argued, would never befriend and collaborate with a writer like Hunt. Yet Byron did just that.
Byron, Hunt, and the Politics of Literary Engagement is the first full-length study of the friendship and literary relationship of two of the most important second-generation Romantic authors. Challenging long-held critical attitudes, this study shows that Byron and Hunt engaged in a creative and meaningful dialogue at each major stage in their careers, from their earliest published volumes of juvenile poetry and verse satire to their most celebrated contributions to Romantic literature: The Story of Rimini and Don Juan. Drawing upon newly recovered letters and unpublished manuscript material, this book illuminates the surprisingly durable and artistically significant friendship of Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt.
Michael P. Steier holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. He has published articles on Byron, Hunt, and their circles in Studies in Romanticism, The Byron Journal, and The Hazlitt Review.
Winner of the 2020 Elma Dangerfield Prize
Byron, Hunt, and the Politics of Literary Engagement "charts the sometimes rivalrous and sometimes collaborative relationship from Byron and Hunt's earliest days of juvenilia and literary satire, to their radical political crusades, Italophile poetics and founding of a journal. It demonstrates unequivocally that the friendship between Byron and Hunt has been previously underestimated and oversimplified. An assured performance, this is a hugely enjoyable book…
This monograph will become the reference book on the Hunt/Byron connection, as well as a very useful resource on Byron generally, and on a large cast of figures, coteries, and literary-cultural phenomena from the 1810s to the 1820s."
-Prize Committee of the International Association of Byron Societies