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date: 03 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Understanding of Romanticism is currently dominated and shaped by a belief in the primacy of print culture. This chapter explores a cultural phenomenon that coexisted with and ran counter to this familiar narrative: non-publication. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, manuscript production massively outnumbered print publication. Manuscript culture was exuberant, wide-ranging, complex, and dominant. It also was symptomatic of a wider, more pervasive culture of non-publication. This encompassed the suppression of completed writings, bibliophobia (an aversion to publication and to print culture), and non-execution, including the refusal to write. Non-publication had a massive impact on writers and readers. It played a crucial, yet hitherto overlooked role in shaping both the Romantic period and our own sense of literary history.

Keywords: bibliophobia, manuscript culture, non-execution, non-publication, Poets Laureate, print culture, suppression, writers and the public sphere

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