Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This dissertation traces the role of unauthorized publication in the posthumous construction of British Romanticism as a literary movement. It argues that Romantic ideology emerged from conflicting claims about the nature of intellectual property and the circulation of political and artistic ideas, apparent in the texts and paratexts of pirated books. I examine how these disputes play out in reprints of the works by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Robert Southey that became cornerstones of radical culture. The dissertation goes on to discuss how the underground economy of literary piracy affected Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron's publication strategies, the significance of foreign reprints to copyright ideology and canon formation, and the relationship between unauthorized publication and the culture of appropriation apparent in radical periodicals and graphic satire. This study thus contributes to the history of the book and print culture in the early nineteenth century while illuminating the economic and legal underpinnings of the body of literature that came to be known as Romantic. It situates British Romanticism as an important moment in the ongoing discourse around intellectual property, emphasizing the contingent and ideologically fraught nature of any such concept.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.