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Romanticism in Bristol and Beyond, 1797, 1817, 2017: A Bicentennial Conference

April 11, 2017 - April 13, 2017

Clifton Club

In the 1790s, an extraordinary confluence of poets, scientists, publishers and political campaigners came together in Bristol. An important port city and center for the slave trade, Bristol became a hub for a radical coterie of writers whose work and conversations bridged nascent divisions between humanistic and scientific concerns. By 1817, many of these same writers—including Humphry Davy, Robert Southey, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge—had emerged as establishment figures calling for radical journalists to be imprisoned and laboring-class inventors to be prosecuted. This bicentennial conference focuses on the transformation of Bristol’s radical writers, doctors, and experimentalists in the aftermath of changes that transformed the city, most importantly the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1816, and the formation of the Bristol Philosophical and Literary Institution in 1817. The conference will explore two linked concerns: How does our perspective on Romanticism shift when we take Bristol as an evolving center for Romantic scientific and literary culture? What questions does the twenty-year trajectory of Southey, Davy, Coleridge and their circle pose for Romanticists in 2017?

Keynote speakers

Ian Packer and Lynda Pratt, editors of Southey’s Collected Letters, on “Southey in context, 1816-18”

Frank James, editor of Faraday’s Collected Letters, on “Davy of the Pneumatic Institution and Davy of the Royal Society in 1817”


April 11, 2017
April 13, 2017
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Clifton Club
22 The Mall
Bristol, BS8 4DS United Kingdom


Tim Fulford, Dahlia Porter