Religion in Romantic England (2018)

Religion in Romantic England

Jeffrey W. Barbeau, ed. Religion in Romantic England: An Anthology of Primary Sources. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2018.

Religion in Romantic England explores the ways that the literature of English Christianity shaped the social, cultural, political, and religious life of the nation in texts published between 1760 and 1832.

From the accession of George III and the expansion of Methodism in the late eighteenth century to the Reform Bill and the beginning of the Oxford Movement of the early nineteenth, this anthology reveals how theological ideas and ecclesial movements influenced one of the most widely studied periods in English literature and history. These tumultuous decades brought religious revival in evangelical preaching and spirituality, controversial responses to the French Revolution, the abolition of the slave trade, the struggle over Roman Catholic emancipation, the proliferation of missionary societies, and intellectual battles over the nature of God, the Bible, faith, church authority, and religious pluralism.

Religious writers in the Romantic period range from poets and preachers to pamphleteers and theologians. In ten thematic chapters tracing pivotal developments in belief and practice, Religion in Romantic England guides readers in understanding the major historical and theological issues that contributed to the literary, educational, and political movements of the era. These judicious selections, drawn from a diverse body of luminaries―including William Carey, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Joseph Priestley, Hannah More, Percy Shelley, and William Wilberforce, among many others―introduce newcomers and established readers alike to the ideas, controversies, and hopes that continue to affect our common life to this day.

“An outstanding anthology. We should be grateful to Barbeau for his judicious and illuminating selection of texts. The book constitutes a most discriminating guide to the religion of this momentous period of thought in the English-speaking world.”

—Douglas Hedley, Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, University of Cambridge

Religion in Romantic England provides source materials essential to any student or scholar interested not only in religion but also in literary, political, and cultural developments. Selections from Wilberforce, Paley, Bentham, Law, Wesley, Wollstonecraft, Burke, Paine, Barbauld, Coleridge, Hemans, Keble, and a score more create a rich, full picture. Barbeau’s introduction provides excellent, highly informative context. No student or scholar of the Romantic Age should be without this volume, and every college and research library should have it on its shelves and in its digital resources.”

—James Engell, Gurney Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University

“Past efforts to relate literature to contemporary religious discourse have been frustrated because the relevant texts have been inaccessible. Jeffrey Barbeau’s anthology not only furnishes the ready access readers have needed, it also provides a chronology and a historical overview of the religious strife, dissenting factions, and theological quarrels. Surveying the developments from the advent of Methodism to the Oxford Movement, Barbeau’s anthology enriches our understanding of the history and the literature of the period.”

—Frederick Burwick, Professor Emeritus of English, University of California Los Angeles