Thomas Warton's History of English Poetry (1774-81) was the great pioneering work of English literary history. Telling the story from the Norman Conquest to the beginning of the seventeenth century, Warton's volumes gave Britain a first real sense of the full richness of its literary past.
For the first time the ^History of English Poetry is being published in as complete a form as possible. Warton never lived to finish the work, and just eighty-eight pages of a fourth volume were left in print when he died. These pages are included in Volume Four of this edition. David Fairer has also provided a substantial Appendix of extra material which consists of: a new transcript of a manuscript "continuation" of the History now at Winchester College; a selection of pages from the surviving proof copies of Volumes Two and Three as corrected for the press; and a facsimile of material from several of Warton's notebooks showing different stages of his work. The whole is completed with William Fillingham's 1806 Index to the History.
In his 30,000 word Introduction, David Fairer examines the development of Warton's work through all its stages from manuscript to print, and discusses the nature and significance of it. This is the fullest and most complete edition to be published, and will provide research libraries with a valuable supplement to the original.
Dr David Fairer is Reader in Eighteenth-Century Poetry at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Pope's Imagination (Manchester University Press, 1984), The Poetry of Alexander Pope (Penguin, 1989), and, as editor, Pope: New Contexts (Harvester-Wheatsheaf, 1990) and The Correspondence of Thomas Warton (University of Georgia Press, 1995). He has also written widely on eighteenth-century Romanticism, including recent essays on Gray, The Wartons, Chatterton, Burke, Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth, and is author of the forthcoming volume, English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century, in the Longman Literature in English Series. With Christine Gerrard he is currently editing Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology (Blackwells).
'At first sight and touch this reprint of Thomas Warton's History of English Poetry, co-produced by Routledge and Thoemmes Antiquarian Books, leaves no room for doubt: here is a classic. Witness the luxurious, reddish brown linen binding and golden lettering on front and spine, the latter seamed at bottom with a row of doric capitals as a final hint for the undecided, as well as the sumptuous, finely-grained paper with the slightests tinge of yellow....Now the canonizer has been canonized. The reprint is remarkable in its suggestiveness concerning the importance of Thomas Warton's History - today' - Klaus Stierstorfer