1st Edition

The American Idea of England, 1776-1840 Transatlantic Writing

By Jennifer Clark Copyright 2013

    Arguing that American colonists who declared their independence in 1776 remained tied to England by both habit and inclination, Jennifer Clark traces the new Americans' struggle to come to terms with their loss of identity as British, and particularly English, citizens. Americans' attempts to negotiate the new Anglo-American relationship are revealed in letters, newspaper accounts, travel reports, essays, song lyrics, short stories and novels, which Clark suggests show them repositioning themselves in a transatlantic context newly defined by political revolution. Chapters examine political writing as a means for Americans to explore the Anglo-American relationship, the appropriation of John Bull by American writers, the challenge the War of 1812 posed to the reconstructed Anglo-American relationship, the Paper War between American and English authors that began around the time of the War of 1812, accounts by Americans lured to England as a place of poetry, story and history, and the work of American writers who dissected the Anglo-American relationship in their fiction. Carefully contextualised historically, Clark's persuasive study shows that any attempt to examine what it meant to be American in the New Nation, and immediately beyond, must be situated within the context of the Anglo-American relationship.

    Contents: Introduction; ’The Britainism of our great men!’: Anglophilia, political writing and the political context of American writing; The history of John Bull: allegorical writing, 1774-1835; The War of 1812: the idea of England and American nationalism; The paper war: Anglo-American recrimination and retaliation; Far hills look green: travel writing; ’[F]air, but different’: England and the English in the American literary imagination, Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    Jennifer Clark is Academic Director for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a member of the School of Humanities at the University of New England, Australia, where she teaches American and Australian History. She is the author of Aborigines and Activism: Race, Aborigines and the Coming of the Sixties to Australia (2008).

    ’In her very readable and broad treatment of American views of England before 1840, Jennifer Clark gives emphasis to the range and diversity of responses which were neither static nor uniform. With an impressive command of transatlantic politics and literature, she makes a compelling case and valuable contribution to an important but curiously understudied topic.’ Andrew O'Shaughnessy, Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and Professor of History at the University of Virginia, USA ’... an ideal reference and teaching aid ... clear and beautifully composed ... providing readers with a flowing and engaging read of an important and under-researched topic.’ Journal of Historical Geography 'Within this relatively narrow time frame, Clark is able to discuss a broad range of texts, from ephemeral song lyrics to works by James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving. Clark excels at identifying the complicated context in which these works were created ... Clark succeeds in the details. Readers looking for insight into familiar and unfamiliar literary works will particularly enjoy this book.' Journal of American History