In British Lit. The Romantic Period in British Literature was a time of nature-inspired poetry, political questioning, and individualism. Dating the Romantic Period in British Literature is easy. Scholars attribute the onset of the period to a poet named William Wordsworth who co- published a “new kind” of poetry with his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Their work entitled “Lyrical Ballads” was published in 1798. That’s the beginning of the Romantic Period according to some scholars. A German literary movement called Sturm und Drang (click for more info.) had already popularized the concept of a suffering main character or poetic ‘’voice’’- one who was a martyr, a rebel, an iconoclast going against the assumptions and expectations of a society. The Romantic movement in British literary history shares this ideal; we may call it the first of a few characteristics we will name - Romantic literature questions authority and values individuals who question authority. Anything that infringes on personal liberty is suspect in this tradition. ‘’Hey, Johnny, What are you rebelling against’’? ‘’What’ve you got’’? - Movies such as Marlon Brando’s ‘’Wild One’’ have popularized the ideal of an irresistible bad boy, glamorous in his fatal passion, rivaling society with a hell-bent glare. This bad boy stereotype first entered our English culture in the Romantic poetry of Lord Byron. These ill-fated but beautifully emotional characters are called “Byronic Heroes.” Marlon Brando in ‘’The Wild One’’ The poets who chose the Romantic style at this time investigated many topics. They wrote of time, love, death, art, and religion among other topics. But one topic in particular was a favorite among the Romantics - nature. As long as there have been poets, there have been poems about nature, but these nature poems were somehow different from the ones that had come before. These poems were not quaint, predictable, over-simplified glorifications of Nature on a purely observational level. These poems were designed to communicate Nature’s transformative power. Nature is portrayed as omnipresent and capable of altering human perception and perspective. The settings of these poems, therefore, are picturesque and exotic. ORDINARY = EXTRAORDINARY The personal experiences documented in the Romantic literature of this time are epiphanies that alter the life of the speaker. But the catalysts for such events may have been ordinary, mundane, or less than remarkable. This ability to describe ordinary events as extraordinary is a characteristic of Romantic literature. Because the Romantic poetry valued individual experience, the rationalism previously admired was replaced by a trust in one’s emotions. The literature in England prior to this movement was witty, intellectual, and social. Romanticism rejects the social ‘us’ and embraces the ‘me’! Intuitions, feelings, and emotions ruled. Man’s heart was a more valued guide than his head. So, another characteristic of Romantic poetry is this enlightenment by emotion. The Romantics searched for personal experiences and strove to communicate their power in meaningful ways. To achieve this, the Romantic writers employed simple and direct language. This was another way to reject the Neoclassical movement that hoped to emulate the ancient writers in lofty styles and language. Think of it this way… our most personal conversations, our most private, do not need elevated language to impress or ring true. This simple language is another Romantic characteristic. Another characteristic of Romantic literature is the inclusion of supernatural elements. Perhaps, for the Romantics, Nature was so powerful that it could not be contained. Nature takes on a mysterious, sometimes even scary quality in literature of the Romantics. Supernatural elements play a large part in these works. British Romantic poetry most frequently took the form of lyric poetry. This genre employed rhythm, repetition, and sometimes rhyme to give the poem a lyrical or musical effect. Sometimes the speaker was a narrator of sorts, or in other instances, the speaker is the voice of the poet. A study of the most popular and important Romantic poets would include: Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Keats, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Although poetry was the most expected Romantic genre, Romantic novels were also written. A popular novel by Mary Shelley - Frankenstein - is also representative of the period.