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date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys and assesses the growing critical interest in the literature of Chartism. One of the most remarkable aspects of Britain’s first mass democratic movement was its significant output of creative literature. From the late 1830s to the early 1850s Chartist newspapers and periodicals published thousands of poems and a substantial amount of shorter and longer fiction. All this literature—whether written by anonymous and forgotten supporters or by more established Chartist authors such as Thomas Cooper, Ernest Jones and George W. M. Reynolds—combined a passionate commitment to political reform with a striving for new imaginative forms, voices, and narratives. Chartism mounted a direct challenge to the middle- and upper-class domination of both politics and literature, and it is this interweaving of radical politics and aesthetics that has continued to attract scholarly attention.

Keywords: Chartist literature, Chartist poetry, Chartist fiction, Ernest Jones, Thomas Cooper, George W. M. Reynolds

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