Though Robert Fergusson published only one collection of poems during his lifetime, he was a fixture in the Scottish periodical press. Rhona Brown explores Fergusson's poetic output in its immediate periodical context, enabling a new understanding of Fergusson's contribution to poetry that also enlarges on our understanding of the Scottish periodical press. Focusing on the development of his career in Walter Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine, Brown situates Fergusson's poetry alongside contemporary events that expose Fergusson's preoccupations with the frivolities of fashion, theatrical culture, the economic status of Scottish manufacture, and politics. At the same time, Brown offers fascinating insights into the political climate of Enlightenment Scotland and shows the Weekly Magazine in relationship to the larger Scottish and British periodical milieus. She concludes by exploring reactions to Fergusson's death in the British periodical presses, arguing that contrary to critical consensus, the poet's death was ignored neither by his own country nor by the larger literary community.
'Characterised by insightful close readings, this book offers an alternative way of reading this most vigorous and interesting poet, challenging existing scholarship and proposing to correct a number of misconceptions. The Fergusson revealed here engaged fully with contemporary culture - news, poems, letters - countering long-held assumptions that his work is backward-looking and nostalgic.' Suzanne Gilbert, University of Stirling, UK 'I felt like I learned something here; I participated almost as closely as imagination makes possible in a past conversation. Words are not enough,� wrote one frustrated correspondent honouring [Fergusson's] memory. No, they are not. But they are all we have, and Rhona Brown’s book is a risky and finally successful reminder of that.' Scotia 'The argument of this book is modesty presented, but its implications are far-reaching; Robert Fergusson and the Scottish Periodical Press should be read by anyone with an interest in the poet and eighteenth-century Scottish culture.' Review of Scottish Culture ’…Brown has told a story and adopted a method that may inspire literary critics to take a step back and consider the wider context in which authors’ works are written and published.’ Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society 'Her book is subtly illuminating and satisfying. Any library with good holdings in the area of eighteenth-century poetry should buy a copy.' Scottish Literary Review 'Robelt Fergusson and the Scottish Periodical Press enhances the reader's understanding of these important and understudied poems by detailing the confluences of time and place and public discourses. This book will become a landmark in studies of the poet.' Wordsworth Circle '… a nuanced, thoughtful and convincing re-examination of a poet often seen merely as a precursor to Burns. It encourages us to re-evaluate Fergusson's work through its magazine contexts, and retrieves him from the vernacular shadow of his popular Scots
Contents: Introduction; 1771: 'His first appearance as an author': pastoral, politics and apprenticeship; 1772: 'A new note': Scots vernacular, reputation and recognition; 1773 - January to July: Assurance, 'fecundity and brilliance': Fergusson, unofficial Poet Laureate'; 1773: 'Every day and special days ongoings' in 'Auld Reikie'; 1773 - August to December: 'Into the very blaze of day': Fergusson's literary zenith; 1774: 'Transfigured for all time': literary responses to Fergusson's death; Bibliography; Index.