One of the popular forms of 19th-century English literary culture , the poetic anthology presents interesting questions regarding the selection and representation of its contents. By examining a corpus of 200 selected anthologies of poetry, beginning after the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1822 until the end of the century, Dr. Tom Mole has been able to cast new views on the anthologized works of the Romantic poets Lord Byron, Felicia Hemans and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The foundation for his study is a database developed from the detailed examination of anthologies from the collections of the British Library. which includes basic bibliographic data such as number of pages, with additional transcriptions of prefatory material. Dr. Mole describes his basic unit of data as the single poem or extract from a long poem, which may then be tracked throughout the corpus.
Using the database, it is possible to see changes and patterns that may emerge across the 200 anthologies and the 78 years surveyed. Dr. Mole notes certain works by Byron, which are extremely popular amongst today’s scholars and readers, appear to have been much less so for Victorian readers of anthologies. Looking ahead, Dr. Mole would like to be able to develop a user interface for the database, which is currently not available for public use. He is also considering the possibility of expanding the current corpus to include other anthologies or perhaps other Romantic poets.