The Poetry of Henry Newbolt: Patriotism is Not Enough

The Poetry of Henry Newbolt: Patriotism is Not Enough

Series: 1880-1920 British Authors Series, Book 9
Genre: Literary Criticism
Tag: Poetry of Henry Newbolt
Publisher: ELT Press
Publication Year: 1994
Length: 224 pp.
ISBN: 9780944318089

22.9 x 15.3 cm.

Henry Newbolt (1862-1938) was a celebrated man of letters at the turn of the century: poet, essayist, historian. But his popularity ebbed after the Great War, and since then the man and his poetry have received more than their share of hostile criticism. Even today critics oversimplify Newbolt. Most often he is typecast as the leading jingoist of the Edwardian age, not unlike Rudyard Kipling was until recently.

In The Poetry of Henry Newbolt, Vanessa Furse Jackson gives us a fresh look at the man, his poetry and their historical context. Her discussions of his heroic and lyric poems are framed by a close examination of the institutionalised values that lay behind Newbolt’s popularity. She looks at the intimate ties between his life-code and his education, particularly his public school education, and at the pervasive concepts of heroism, chivalry and patriotism inherited by the younger generation of the 1870s. She later examines how traditional Victorian and Edwardian attitudes, not just the general public’s but Newbolt’s as well, were irrevocably altered by the gruesome events of World War I.

Jackson provides nuance and perspective to show that Newbolt was not simply the blind patriot described by many literary historians. What he represents, she says, ‘is something much more interesting, and, in a complete history of the period, both more important and more complex.’ In addition to revealing much about the concepts, ideals and aspirations of the Victorian middle class in which he grew up, Newbolt ‘represents one of the last movements in poetry to occur in the fin-de-siècle anticipation and anxiety of the 1890s. [He] is a minor figure who represents major Victorian values and attitudes.’

In The Poetry of Henry Newbolt, Professor Jackson reconnects the poems to their context and offers new insights into Henry Newbolt, his work, and the Transi¬tion era itself.

VANESSA FURSE JACKSON, a great-granddaughter of Henry Newbolt, spent ten years in theatre in England before returning to college in 1981 and completing a BA (hons) in Related Arts at the West Sussex Institute of Higher Education. After graduating in 1984, she came to the United States and received an MFA in Creative Writing at Bowling Green State Uni¬versity in 1986. She completed her Ph.D. at Bowling Green in 1990. Professor Jackson spent her time teaching at Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi, before returning to live in England.

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