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date: 19 February 2020

Verse Miscellanies in the Eighteenth Century

Abstract and Keywords

The eighteenth century was an age of miscellanies; thousands of miscellaneous collections containing verse appeared in print over the course of the century. This article considers miscellanies as a distinct kind of verse collection; whereas anthologies promote authorship as a category of literary definition, miscellanies invite readers to sample a variety of poetic forms and genres and often include poems without authorial attribution. The eighteenth-century tradition of miscellanies devoted exclusively to poetry has its roots in the late seventeenth century, and many aspects of seventeenth-century miscellany culture persisted well into the next century. This article looks at a number of ways in which verse miscellanies offer fresh perspectives on eighteenth-century literary culture. The popularity and reception of particular poems and poets, the formation of the English literary canon, and the status of authorship are all areas in which miscellanies make a significant contribution to critical understanding.

Keywords: verse, miscellanies, anthologies, poetry, eighteenth century, authorship, attribution, canon, reception, print

If the late eighteenth century witnessed the dawn of an age of anthologies—the era of John Bell’s British Poets (1776–1782) and later Francis Palgrave’s Golden Treasury (1861)—the earlier part of the century was “an Age of Miscellanies.”1 Thousands of miscellanies containing verse were published over the course of the century. The verse they featured is enormously varied; epitaphs, riddles, and songs jostle with verse forms more familiar to modern readers of eighteenth-century poetry, such as odes and epistles. Many miscellanies combined verse with prose texts such as essays, letters, jests, and maxims. Some included only extracts from longer poems and plays. Others offered complete translations of Latin classics, done “by the most eminent hands.” Even such a cursory survey of miscellanies suggests that eighteenth-century readers encountered a greater variety of verse, and in a wider range of contexts, than modern readers viewing the period through the lens of scholarly editions, anthologies, and criticism have tended to appreciate. This article considers some of the ways in which the study of miscellanies helps to broaden our understanding of how poetry was marketed, consumed, and valued in the eighteenth century.

Bibliography and the Idea of the Miscellany

The work of modern bibliographers and indexers has made it possible to trace the scope and character of the age of miscellanies with unprecedented precision. The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL) includes the capacious category “poetical miscellanies, song books and verse collections of multiple authorship,” in which musical collections and songbooks are recorded alongside nonmusical collections containing verse.2 This category includes almost five thousand titles published between 1701 and 1800, an extensive listing but not a comprehensive one; more recent bibliographic resources such as the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC; have opened up the field further, and Michael F. Suarez has stated that the total number of miscellanies published between 1701 and 1800 is in fact “considerably higher” than the number listed in NCBEL.3 A more selective and detailed picture of the range and composition of eighteenth-century verse miscellanies is provided by the Digital Miscellanies Index (DMI;, an online index of the contents of nonmusical verse collections. The DMI excludes books with printed music, as well as most collections exclusively devoted to songs; it contains records for almost fifteen hundred miscellanies published between 1700 and 1780.

Modern bibliographies and indexes of miscellanies are indispensable resources for researchers surveying the field and seeking new directions for enquiry. However, these resources depend on and reinforce a notion of the characteristic form of verse miscellanies that reveals more about the preoccupations of modern scholarship than it does about eighteenth-century literary culture. Both NCBEL and the DMI identify verse miscellanies using the key criterion of authorship: NCBEL records “collections of verse (or verse and prose) containing the work of three or more hands” (vol. 2, col. 327), and the DMI has very similar parameters. But the notion that verse miscellanies are defined by collective authorship is primarily a reflection of modern bibliographic and scholarly conventions. A consideration of the titles of verse (or verse and prose) collections published during the eighteenth century reveals that the promise of miscellaneity was by no means synonymous with the inclusion of pieces by an assortment of authors.

ESTC records hundreds of collections published between 1700 and 1799 that include verse and feature the word miscellany or miscellanies in their titles. Some advertise the fact that they contain pieces “by several hands,” or by a group of authors named on the title page. Many others ascribe their contents to a single author, occasionally under the guise of a pseudonym or epithet (such as “a Gentleman”). Among the more familiar authors whose works were collected and published in miscellany form during this period are Anne Finch (Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions, 1713), Giles Jacob (A Miscellany of Poems, 1718), and Thomas Chatterton (Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, 1778).4 The diversity of collections called miscellany or miscellanies bears out Paddy Bullard’s observation that the miscellany can be seen as a distinctive form of literary production not because it showcases a particular kind of authorship, but rather because it enables many different kinds of authorial performance:

Some miscellanies contain the writings of a single author, some are dominated by the work of one or two authors but feature oddments by others, and some present writings by many hands. The miscellany form is suitable to books with all sorts of different author functions, and this versatility is one of its peculiar characteristics.5

Bullard notes that our sense of the history and character of miscellanies is dominated by the high profile of multiple-author verse miscellanies: “It is tempting to conclude that single-author or prose miscellanies are mere aberrations in a long line of multiple-author verse anthologies” (Bullard 2012, 62). However, as Bullard shows, single-author and prose miscellanies have much to contribute to our understanding of the literary dynamics of the miscellany form. A survey of the records in ESTC indicates that among eighteenth-century books called miscellany or miscellanies, there are just as many editions of single-author collections containing verse as there are of multiple-author collections featuring poetry. In future, if we are to grasp the full importance of the miscellany as a format for the publication of verse, we will need to look beyond our customary definition and consider the form as a flexible vehicle for many kinds of authorship.

Definitions: Miscellany or Anthology?

The study of multiple-author verse miscellanies has gained considerable momentum over the past twenty years, as facsimile editions of landmark collections have appeared and scholars have demonstrated the importance of miscellanies to histories of poetic production and reception.6 But recent work has also highlighted the difficulty of arriving at a stable definition of a miscellany. Do miscellanies constitute a distinct genre of verse collection, with their own unique features, or are they close cousins of anthologies, performing the same function of selecting from an available corpus of literary material to embody a particular set of literary values? Several scholars have insisted that miscellanies and anthologies do indeed have distinct generic identities. For Suarez, their cultural functions are diametrically opposed:

Miscellanies are usually compilations of relatively recent texts designed to suit contemporary tastes; anthologies, in contrast, are generally selections of canonical texts which have a more established history and a greater claim to cultural importance. The miscellany, then, typically celebrates—and indeed constructs—taste, novelty and contemporaneity in assembling a synchronous body of material. It should be distinguished from the anthology, which honours—and perpetuates—the value of historicity and the perdurance of established canons of artistic discrimination in gathering texts recognized for their aesthetic legitimacy. (2001, 218–219)

Yet Suarez’s central opposition—“novelty and contemporaneity” on the one hand, and “historicity” and canonicity on the other—is not easy to map onto a period in which a good deal of older verse remained perennially popular, and the literary canon and its supporting mechanisms were undergoing a thorough transformation.

Two examples should serve to illustrate the ways in which verse collections published during this period unsettle easy generalizations about contemporaneity and canonicity. First, a collection might respond to and help to cultivate contemporary tastes, not by emphasizing the value of the new and novel, but by packaging old favorites in a new and appealing form. The Book of Fun (1759), for example, presents itself as the epitome of light reading, both literally and metaphorically. A pocket-sized duodecimo made up of just two and half sheets, the volume was advertised for sale at one shilling as a publication of “R. Stevens, at Pope’s Head in Pater-noster Row.”7 Its subtitle, “The Quntessence [sic] of Wit and Mirth,” harks back to the playful miscellanies of the late seventeenth century, but its title page promises timeless entertainment from “all the Jolliest Authors.”

In fact, the contents of the collection have a decidedly seventeenth-century flavor: twenty-nine of the seventy-one pieces in the collection (occupying the first two-thirds of the book) also appear in the latest edition of one of the most popular verse collections of the eighteenth century, The Poetical Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscomon, and Dorset (1757). The Poetical Works devotes the first of its two volumes to “The Works Of The Earl of Rochester,”8 while the second volume includes poems by Rochester’s contemporaries and several later authors. The Book of Fun silently digests this best-selling miscellany of predominantly late Stuart verse into a lighter, popular collection, hiding its authorial origins under a façade of jollity and adding an assortment of epigrams and epitaphs to cater to shorter attention spans. The Book of Fun, then, fulfills Suarez’s definition of a miscellany by making an exuberant appeal to the contemporary taste for comic verse, rather than to the literary knowledge of its consumers. However, the story it has to tell is not about how miscellanies promoted the values of “novelty and contemporaneity,” but rather about how opportunistic publishers of miscellanies tapped into enduring veins of literary popularity.

The second example illustrates the potential for misrepresentation that exists when familiar conceptions of the anthology are invoked in connection with verse collections of a special character. The British Muse (1738) belongs to a tradition of commonplace collections—compendia of literary extracts selected as specimens of stylistic excellence and fine sentiment and arranged under alphabetical headings by topic. The distinguishing feature of The British Muse is its antiquarian rationale: Thomas Hayward, the compiler of the collection, had a lifelong interest in collecting and preserving texts of historical and literary significance, and in his selections for The British Muse he bypassed the well-trodden territory of post-Restoration literature to recover scattered and neglected specimens of the writing of the Elizabethan and early Stuart eras.9 Hayward is acclaimed as a model for compilers in the preface to The British Muse, written by his friend and fellow antiquary William Oldys:

Hence we have long wanted a compiler, or reader-general for mankind, to digest whatever was most exquisite (the flowers) in our poets, into the most commodious method for use and application; a person, void of all prejudice, who would take no author’s character upon trust, but would deliberately review such of our poets as had seemed to expire in fame, rather through length of time, and the variation of our language, than want of merit.10

In his description of a compiler gathering “flowers” from celebrated and lesser-known authors alike, Oldys echoes the etymological meaning of the term anthology, derived from the Greek words anthos (flower) and legein (to gather).11 Suarez’s definition seems to provide further support for the view that The British Muse is an anthology. The collection recovers a literary history based on “merit,” rather than the shifting sands of “fame,” and in this respect it appears to uphold “the value of historicity and the perdurance of established canons of artistic discrimination.”

However, seen in the context of midcentury literary culture, The British Muse appears strikingly isolated from “established canons.” The collection was reissued in 1740 as The Quintessence of English Poetry, but there is little evidence that its championing of lesser-known pre-Restoration verse influenced other compilers. According to the data provided by the DMI, no other multiple-author collection published in the next forty years at least offered a comparable sampling of the work of poets such as George Herbert, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, and Robert Herrick. As Adam Rounce points out, the contents of The British Muse “are more anticipatory of taste twenty years after,” when interest in Spenser and an earlier English verse tradition was on the rise.12 Moreover, The British Muse was nearly forty years old when Thomas Warton praised it as “the most comprehensive and exact Common-place of the works of our most eminent poets throughout the reign of queen Elisabeth, and afterwards.”13 To call The British Muse an anthology, then, is to categorize it in a way that occludes the very strong possibility that it only appeared to engage with “established canons” in retrospect.14 For many contemporary readers, The British Muse may have seemed to offer an antiquarian “canon” whose relationship with the pantheon of post-Restoration authors was by no means clearly established.

Acknowledging the instability of concepts such as canonicity and contemporaneity, several scholars have avoided using miscellany and anthology as distinct generic terms. Barbara M. Benedict, for example, argues that while generic distinctions between miscellanies and anthologies shift and blur with changing historical perspectives, what is clear is that both miscellanies and anthologies belong to a tradition of multiple-author collections shaped by the market for poetry in print.

[A]nthologies and miscellanies constitute the same genre because they share means of material production, processes of compilation, audiences, and forms that define their cultural functions…. Both “miscellanies” and “anthologies” describe a form, shaped by readers and mediated by booksellers and editors, that works to define contemporary cultural literacy and the attitude of the reader to printed literature. (Benedict 1996, 4)

Benedict’s perspective underlines the vital importance of the book trade and wider literary culture as contexts for understanding the features of particular verse collections. As the foregoing examples have shown, identifying a collection as a miscellany or an anthology may reinforce familiar generic assumptions, but it may tell only part of the story of that collection’s cultural and commercial functions. A “miscellany,” for example, might turn out to be a vehicle for older texts, and an “anthology” of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century verse might not be representative of contemporary canons of taste. For Benedict, the core function of all verse collections is to provide readers with a carefully curated experience of literary culture, and thus the term anthology, with its connotations of discerning selection, is used as a generous label for collections of all kinds in Benedict’s study.

Yet this approach too is not without problems. Most conspicuously, Benedict’s treatment of miscellanies as “early forms of literary anthologies” tends to underplay the distinctive possibilities of the miscellany as a literary form and the extent to which this form came to dominate the culture of printed verse collections for much of the eighteenth century (1996, 3). Miscellanies, as has already been discussed, were capable of accommodating many different kinds of authorial performance; their character depended less on the authorial identities (or identity) behind the texts than on the relationships between the texts. In this respect, miscellanies can be seen as the antithesis of the historical anthologies produced in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, which constructed a canon of authors and reified their identities with engraved portraits and biographies.15 Furthermore, miscellanies and anthologies performed fundamentally different functions as vehicles for the transmission of poetic texts. The anthologies of the later part of the century appropriated the functions of collected editions of authors’ works, offering readers a definitive representation of the oeuvre of each featured author. In contrast, miscellanies facilitated the circulation of texts beyond and outside the format of authorial collected works; they functioned as repositories for uncollected pieces and introduced texts already instated in single-author collections to new literary company.

This article uses the terms miscellany and anthology more precisely than Benedict does. Yet the distinction it makes between miscellanies and anthologies is not underpinned by a generic dichotomy such as that outlined by Suarez (2001). As discussed below, the cultural functions that Suarez reserves for anthologies—most important, the formation of the literary canon—are seen by many scholars as inseparable from miscellanies. Instead, this article is based on a definition of the miscellany that foregrounds its interaction with authorship and its role within a wider context of literary publishing.

The Rise of the Literary Miscellany

While the miscellanies of the eighteenth century differ in form from the anthologies of the Romantic era, they also differ in character from the miscellanies of the seventeenth century. In comparison with their predecessors, eighteenth-century miscellanies tend to display a greater confidence in the intrinsic appeal of poetry and a more marked interest in the authorial origins of texts. The eighteenth century is the era in which the printed miscellany came into its own as a confidently literary form, celebrating and extending the cultural profile of poetry. As Adam Smyth demonstrates, the mid-seventeenth-century miscellany had been a far more ephemeral, hybrid form, absorbing poetry into shifting contexts dependent on ideas of social exclusivity or practical use.16 The collections of this period typically bundled poems and songs together with letters, dialogues, jests, and other kinds of text, and envisioned readers anxious to improve their social etiquette or replenish their stores of recyclable wit. Over the years, however, Smyth finds “a decline in any declared serious purpose for these collections: formerly presented as guides to social advancement or at least specimens of elite life, they subsequently appear as collections of poems, interesting in themselves and not dependent on constructed connotations, invoked contexts, or grand intentions” (2004, 173). By the eighteenth century, this literary self-definition had become commonplace: hundreds upon hundreds of miscellanies offered an assortment of poems unmingled with other kinds of texts and allowed readers to find their own contexts and uses for the poetry they contained.

Though collections of poems without much contextual framing had appeared earlier, the literary miscellany achieved a distinctive character in the 1680s, with far-reaching consequences for the role of the miscellany in literary culture and the growth of the market for collections of poems “by several hands.” According to Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins, a cluster of publications of the mid-1680s created “a distinctive and innovatory type” of verse miscellany.17 This type of collection grew out of the contemporary vogue for literary translation and aspired “to be considered a contribution to ‘polite literature’” (Gillespie and Hopkins 2008, 1:xvii). It catered for educated tastes with a variety of original poems and translations, eschewing the popular appetite for the irreverent and bawdy that earlier miscellanies had celebrated. The new type of collection also showcased a substantial amount of verse previously unseen in print and revealed the names of many of its contributors.

For Gillespie and Hopkins (2008), the first collection to display these characteristics with a coherent sense of purpose was Miscellany, Being a Collection of Poems by Several Hands (1685), edited by Aphra Behn.18 However, Behn had been developing a template created by her erstwhile publisher, Jacob Tonson. Building on his early successes as a publisher of translations, Tonson produced Miscellany Poems (1684) and Sylvae (1685) in partnership with John Dryden. As their modern editors acknowledge, these miscellanies were “somewhat ramshackle in structure and uncertain of purpose” (Gillespie and Hopkins 2008, 1:xvi), but they bore the hallmarks of a new type of collection promoting high-quality verse and mingling classical and contemporary flavors. The innovatory character of Miscellany Poems is reflected in its title; this is the first collection of verse by various authors to bear the title Miscellany. For much of the seventeenth century, books called Miscellany had taken one of two forms: an assortment of works by a single author, often philosophical or religious in nature, or a selection of previously published material by a range of authors. Tonson’s Miscellany Poems introduced a new form: a collection of new and previously published work by a community of literary authors sharing creative and social affinities.

Tonson created the market for this new type of literary miscellany, and over several decades he established an unassailable position as market leader. Miscellany Poems and Sylvae launched a series of miscellanies that reached a sixth installment in 1709, bringing together a host of literary talent, including Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, William Congreve, and Alexander Pope. Tonson’s miscellanies nurtured the early flowerings of translations later published under his aegis, inspired numerous competitors and imitators, and provided other booksellers and editors with a wealth of material for selective reprinting and (in some cases) wholesale appropriation.19 Furthermore, the miscellanies themselves continued to push the boundaries of the form, as both content and format underwent comprehensive renovation in later editions. In 1716 Tonson reprinted all six miscellanies for the first time in accessible duodecimo format, culling poems destined for other collections and adding a wide selection of earlier seventeenth-century verse.20 Gillespie and Hopkins have suggested that the 1716 collection, with its mixture of older and more recent poetry, “might be called the first modern anthology: a collection designed not to provide popular diversion, didactic instruction, or topical commentary, but to present the best aspects of the verse of ‘the former age’ of non-dramatic English verse for readers of the early eighteenth century” (2008, 1:lvi). Tonson’s multiple-volume collection of 1716 is not easily categorized; it retains the character of a miscellany in its mixture of attributed and unattributed verse, but its configuration and marketing as “an integral part of a collected works of Dryden” move it closer to the anthology’s function as a repository for an author’s works (Gillespie and Hopkins 2008, 1:lvi). Regardless of how it is labeled, however, the 1716 collection created a new version of literary history for a wide audience and underlined the capacity of miscellanies to preserve high-quality pieces for generations of readers.

New Audiences and Traditional Forms

Tonson’s miscellanies catered to a constituency of readers united not by a shared locality or social class, but by a common desire to extend their cultural literacy. However, in the eighteenth century many miscellany publishers pitched their products to more narrowly defined audiences. As population growth accelerated consumer demand for books, and developments in the book trade opened up new provincial markets, publishers of miscellanies embraced these new commercial possibilities by targeting readers with specific regional ties and social profiles.21 In 1712, for example, the shamelessly entrepreneurial London bookseller Edmund Curll “opened a branch shop at the fashionable spa town, Tunbridge Wells” and “advertised it by means of producing polite ‘society’ literature.”22 The Tunbridge-Miscellany (1712) was the first in an annual series of miscellanies produced by Curll in London and “sold at his Shop upon Tunbridge-Walks.”23 These elegant little pamphlets purported to contain verse written at the resort during high season and offered resort-goers a poetic souvenir of their stay.

Samuel Silver, a bookseller and general retailer based in the Kent town of Sandwich, targeted a different kind of audience. In 1753 Silver published The Lover’s Manual, a collection intended, as its preface explains, as “the Means of exalting and refining the Notions and Conceptions of the younger Part of the World concerning the Nature of Love.”24 Though the preface insists on its high-minded purpose, The Lover’s Manual presents itself as a handbook, and its contents lend themselves to practical as well as sentimental application. Two of its five sections contain epistles in prose and verse, several of which appear to emanate from the social milieu of Sandwich and the surrounding area: there are verses addressed “To Miss M— of Sandwich” and “To Miss H––n of Deal” (Lover’s Manual 1753, 84, 40). The Lover’s Manual abounds in texts of conversation and compliment, and it implies a reader—typically a male reader—who might apply the language and sentiments of these pieces to his own romantic exchanges. As Suarez has shown, the collection seems to have succeeded in exciting the interest of its target audience: the 443 subscribers to Silver’s publication were local to Kent, and one third were unmarried (2001, 223).

In creating products for particular markets, Curll, Silver, and many other publishers breathed new life into traditional conceptions of the miscellany as a mirror of elite society or a guide to social etiquette. The Tunbridge-Miscellany, like many of its seventeenth-century precursors, trades on the exclusive social context of its verse, while The Lover’s Manual is descended from a long line of rhetorical handbooks stretching back to the most popular of all mid-seventeenth-century miscellanies, The Academy of Complements (first published in 1640).25 These examples point to a couple of the ways in which seventeenth-century miscellany traditions continued to shape the cultural landscape of the eighteenth century. Recent scholarly work on comic miscellanies has revealed another important thread of continuity between seventeenth- and eighteenth-century miscellany cultures. Traditionally, research on eighteenth-century miscellanies has focused on collections that contributed to the making of a national literary tradition: the best-selling miscellanies produced by Tonson and Robert Dodsley, collections of old ballads, and collections of Scots poems have been at the forefront of critical discussion.26 Only recently have scholars recognized the vital contribution of more popular, entertaining miscellanies to eighteenth-century culture. As some of the most stimulating recent work has shown, jest books and collections of comic verse—staples of seventeenth-century miscellany culture—were among the most popular and profitable miscellanies of the eighteenth century. They offer important insights into the longevity of verse traditions and the continuities between “popular” and “polite” taste.

Suarez has noted the success of The Muse in Good Humour (first published in 1744), one of the best-selling miscellanies of the eighteenth century (2001, 227). Subtitled “a Collection of Comic Tales,” The Muse in Good Humour presents a distinguished tradition of comic narrative verse, including works written by or derived from “Chaucer, Prior, Swift, La Fontaine, Dr. King, and other eminent Poets.”27 The miscellany went through eight editions over a forty-year period, and its success demonstrates that poetry remained “an important form of light entertainment” for eighteenth-century readers (Suarez 2001, 227). Jest books also continued to circulate poetry—most commonly, epigrams, songs, and verse tales—alongside an assortment of prose texts. These collections promulgated a crude, unsentimental brand of humor, yet they were extremely popular with an affluent readership, as Simon Dickie has shown.28 Dickie’s work offers important evidence that “popular” and “polite” tastes were far less sharply differentiated in this period than is sometimes thought.

The evolution of the verse miscellany in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is a story of change and continuity. On the one hand, the reinvention of the miscellany in the 1680s and beyond as a form reflecting the prestige of poetry and individual poets has been well documented. On the other, the enduring vitality of the miscellany as a form dedicated to entertainment or instruction remains relatively under-researched. The longevity of seventeenth-century miscellany traditions is part of a broader picture of cultural continuity: seventeenth-century poetry reached many new readers through eighteenth-century miscellanies, as the success of the specialist collection The Poetical Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscomon, and Dorset illustrates. Eighteenth-century verse miscellanies thus offer many opportunities to investigate the later reception and development of seventeenth-century literary culture.

Miscellanies and Reception History

Verse miscellanies, as outlined above, differ from anthologies in their promotion of literary variety and their mingling and blurring of authorial personalities. Instead of promoting the reputations of individual authors, miscellanies “transmit cultural ideas to individual readers and booksellers, helping to determine the way literature was read” (Benedict 1996, 4). At the same time, miscellanies transmit authors’ works to new audiences. Tracing the appearances of works by particular authors in miscellanies can reveal new aspects of authors’ publication and reception histories. Some poems appear for the first time in miscellanies, providing insight into authors’ literary networks and in some cases into the circulation of verse in manuscript. Other poems are reproduced from earlier editions, offering an indication of their relative popularity and, potentially, the growth of an author’s reputation. Furthermore, the presentation of an author’s work within a particular miscellany can shed light on the author’s reputation at a particular moment, as well as on the qualities readers may have appreciated in that author’s work. The attribution of a poem and its positioning—as part of a sequence, or in a place of distinction at the beginning or end of a miscellany—are signals of its author’s visibility and status in the literary world. In addition, the type of miscellany in which a poem appears and the kinds of texts that surround it create a picture of the expectations and associations that helped to shape readers’ encounters with a poem.

The advent of digital databases has transformed the possibilities for harnessing the evidence of miscellanies to enhance our understanding of authors’ careers and reception. The DMI enables scholars to search the contents of almost fifteen hundred verse miscellanies published between 1700 and 1780, a mass of data that can be sifted to pinpoint appearances of particular poems and poets. The DMI’s records are cross-referenced with the contents of Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), which provides electronic facsimiles of almost all of the miscellanies published over the course of the century. Digital databases have also opened up the vast archives of newspapers and magazines, with the potential to support new and much-needed research into the traffic of verse between miscellanies and the periodical press. These resources include large-scale databases of electronic reproductions such as the Burney Collection Newspapers database, as well as a specialist index ( of the poetry published in the Gentleman’s Magazine from its inception in 1731 through 1800.

Recent research into the reception of two canonical poets has shown how miscellanies can contribute to the rediscovery of authorial identities and readerly tastes which have been overwritten by modern criticism and editorial practice. Claudine van Hensbergen (forthcoming) has examined the representation of the Rochester canon in The Works of the … Earls of Rochester and Roscommon (first published in 1707), the best-selling miscellany briefly discussed above under the variant title of a midcentury edition, The Poetical Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscomon, and Dorset.29 This collection, acquired and edited by Curll, includes the majority of the poems that modern editions have confidently attributed to Rochester. However, as van Hensbergen reveals, the collection also includes a substantial number of spurious poems, many of them added by Curll. In addition, van Hensbergen shows how Curll used the collection as a vehicle for The Cabinet of Love, a pornographic pamphlet that became closely connected with Rochester’s oeuvre and with his reputation for obscenity. The Rochester of the popular Works—and consequently the Rochester that most eighteenth-century readers knew—was the author of a much larger body of poems than is accepted as his today, and was marketed by a publisher aiming to tap into a lucrative market for erotic literature.

While van Hensbergen offers a valuable case study of an individual miscellany, James Woolley’s survey of the popularity of Swift’s poems is a suggestive example of the data-driven research that digital databases have made possible.30 Woolley’s research is based on the database of the ongoing Swift Poems Project, whose editors have collected information about thousands of printed and manuscript instances of Swift’s poems produced in the eighteenth century. Taking the total number of recorded instances of each poem outside of authorial contexts as “a rough proxy” for its popularity, Woolley uncovers the shifting currents of the poems’ popularity during Swift’s writing life and beyond (2013, 371). His findings reveal the outlines of an eighteenth-century canon of Swift’s poetry whose contours reflect the literary history of miscellanies in highly significant ways. Two of the top five of Swift’s most popular poems during the period up to 1739—“Baucis and Philemon” and “On Biddy Floyd”—were included in miscellanies that gained an established place in literary culture. These collections, which will now be familiar, are Curll’s third edition of The Works of the … Earls of Rochester and Roscommon, and the sixth and final part of Tonson’s miscellany series, published within a few months of each other in 1709. In the later period, from 1740 to the end of the century, the top five saw three new entries—“As Thomas Was Cudgelld,” “An Epigram on Fasting,” and “A Love Song in the Modern Taste”—that reflect the popularity of Swift’s lighter verse in jest books and song books. As Woolley notes, these kinds of miscellany enjoyed a “growing prominence” as vehicles for verse in the second half of the century (2013, 373). Using innovative quantitative methods, Woolley’s study points to the many different ways of reading Swift that coexisted in the eighteenth century and the currents of popular taste that shaped his reception.

Yet as Woolley acknowledges, the data produced by these methods are only a “proxy” measure of popularity. The flat numbers of recorded instances function as an approximate measure of a poem’s readership; this can be estimated using the number of potential readers of a printed collection as well as the number of actual readers who made manuscript copies of a poem. However, these numbers are a highly unreliable basis for assessing the wider implications of a poem’s apparent popularity, namely the extent to which its repeated reproduction reflects the reputation of its author, or the enthusiasm of readers for that poem in particular over others by the same author or belonging to the same genre. Thus, Woolley’s discovery that “As Thomas Was Cudgelld” was Swift’s most frequently reproduced poem in the latter half of the eighteenth century is not positive evidence that Swift acquired a reputation as a master of the humorous epigram, nor is it proof that Swift’s readers considered this poem to be among the most distinguished pieces in his oeuvre. Understanding a poem’s popularity in this broader sense—in relation to the workings of authorial influence and literary judgment—is a very difficult task. The motives of particular editors can often be assumed, but not verified, and the tastes of readers—even those reading the same work at the same time—are likely to have varied considerably across the spectrum of age, gender, and social class.31 However, it is possible to support or qualify assumptions about an author’s influence or readers’ preferences by looking closely at the individual miscellanies and groups of miscellanies in which poems appear.

This attentiveness to context is vital to any reading of the popularity of poems in miscellanies. A search in the DMI will generate a comparatively high number of citations for a poem that appeared in successive editions of a popular miscellany, or in an assortment of miscellanies; however, this is not in itself evidence of approval and influence. Verse miscellanies often characterized themselves as collections of the most approved, or the most useful, texts: in Benedict’s words, they “sell texts of choice and the choice of texts” (1996, 3). As a result, they not only helped to determine what readers read, but also encouraged readers to perceive what they read as representative of a consensus of taste or a system of literary value. However, there is a danger in assuming that the presentation of “texts of choice” was always the result of critical acts of choice on the part of an editor. Some editors avoided the labor of selection by appropriating the choices of others. As Rounce observes, “[t]he whole culture of poetic commonplace books and anthologies was rooted in unacknowledged borrowing, where collections were constructed using their predecessors as building-blocks” (2014, 22). Such borrowings reveal far more about editorial pragmatism than they do about taste; by lifting texts in bulk from collections already in print, editors minimized the labor of preparing new copy for the press and staked their claim to a share of an established market. Thus, multiple appearances of a poem in miscellanies of a similar character may be a legacy of routine editorial recycling, rather than a reflection of popular demand.

Pragmatism was a powerful motive for all editors, not just those seeking to capitalize on the work of rivals. Editors and publishers were in the business of selling books, and where costs could be kept down and labor saved by gathering poems from a narrower range of sources, editors often made the most of these options. Yet until recently there has been little acknowledgment of the pull of cheapness and convenience in accounts of the choices of eighteenth-century editors. As a result, many critical narratives of the reception of eighteenth-century poetry have been based on assumptions that must be heavily qualified. One such narrative is offered by a pioneering study of miscellanies as evidence of literary reception. In the early twentieth century, Raymond D. Havens proposed that popular miscellanies could be read as snapshots of the tastes of readers at particular moments in time; a succession of these snapshots would reveal the evolution of popular tastes over a period of literary history.32 This narrative is based on the assumption that editors of eighteenth-century miscellanies sought to “represent what was thought to be the best poetry of the time, or that most in vogue” (Havens 1929, 501). They did so, Havens claimed, in an effort to attract the widest possible audience and maximize their sales. According to this logic, publishers knew that the success of a miscellany depended on its appeal to a large number of readers with a broad spectrum of tastes; therefore, the highest selling miscellanies of the era are those that contain the most representative selections of the kinds of poetry that pleased contemporary readers. However, recent work on the eighteenth century’s best-selling miscellany has shown that this equation of commercial success with representative taste is untenable.

The success of Robert Dodsley’s Collection of Poems was unprecedented and lasting. Suarez summarizes the history of the Collection in his magisterial edition:

Originally published in 1748 as a miscellany in three volumes, Dodsley’s Collection grew to four volumes in 1755 and, finally, six volumes in 1758. In its several forms, the Collection went through twelve editions in thirty-four years, spawned two unauthorized supplements, and was generally regarded as the epitome of polite taste in poetry during the second half of the eighteenth century. (1997, 2)

Dodsley himself encouraged readers to believe that the Collection had been built on principles of good taste. In the brief “Advertisement” that prefaces the first volume, Dodsley outlines his editorial rationale:

The intent of the following Volumes is to preserve to the Public those poetical performances, which seemed to merit a longer remembrance than what would probably be secured to them by the Manner wherein they were originally published. This design was first suggested to the Editor, as it was afterwards conducted, by the opinions of some Gentlemen, whose names it would do him the highest honour to mention…. It is impossible to furnish out an entertainment of this nature, where every part shall be relished by every guest: it will be sufficient, if nothing is set before him, but what has been approved by those of the most acknowledged taste.33

Like many publishers before him, Dodsley, a former footman, uses his prefatory address to call attention to the pedigree of the “Gentlemen” who have supported his venture, and whose “acknowledged taste” forms the bedrock on which the Collection is built. The “Advertisement” implies that Dodsley and his gentlemen assistants have included something to please “every guest.” Yet this apparent appeal to a popular audience is not what it seems. Dodsley marketed the Collection to “a relatively wealthy and well-educated readership” (Suarez 1997, 102), and the account of its prestigious social origins in the “Advertisement” underlines its status as an exclusive literary product. The “Advertisement” also emphasizes that the poems Dodsley hopes will please “every guest” comprise a selective, rather than a representative, assortment of the best productions of the time. The Collection is a miscellany whose primary aim is preservation, not canonization: it contains a selection of the best poems that have not yet established a secure place in literary culture, either because of the format of their original publication or because they have not previously appeared in print.

Dodsley’s prefatory statement counters several assumptions about the editorial aims of a best-selling miscellany. However, the “Advertisement” conceals as much as it reveals. Dodsley portrayed himself as an editor endorsing the good taste of his social connections, but he omitted to mention that his primary concerns had always been those of a bookseller. As Suarez has meticulously demonstrated, Dodsley’s overriding motives were profit and practicality. As the leading publisher of poetry at midcentury, Dodsley had a distinguished backlist and an extensive social and literary network, and he exploited both of them to keep costs down and quality high in the production of the Collection. He lifted poems from his own previous publications and collected new poems from friends and contacts, for which it seems the authors received no monetary payment (Suarez 1997, 100). When he was short of copy he accepted poems because they were available, not because they were among the best he had read. For all the aesthetic and bibliographical criteria that underpinned the choices of Dodsley and his gentlemen assistants, the Collection was founded on legal and commercial considerations; it comprises a selection of the best poetry that Dodsley owned, or could obtain freely, within the time he allotted to the preparation of the volumes.

The Collection occupied a central place in literary culture for over thirty years. It transmitted verse by poets of an earlier generation—including Thomas Tickell and John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey—to a later readership. It also acted as an important vehicle for verse by now canonical poets such as Thomas Gray, Samuel Johnson, Mark Akenside, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Dodsley’s miscellany came to be seen as “the epitome of polite taste” and an essential addition to the library of any serious reader of poetry. As scholars now recognize, the Collection did not achieve its critical and commercial success by defining a canon of eighteenth-century poetry. Instead, the success of the miscellany is testament to Dodsley’s ambition and judgment in assembling a body of generally high-quality verse and marketing it as a fashionable product for discerning readers. This has wider implications for critical understanding of the cultural role of miscellanies. The reinterpretation of the Collection advanced by Suarez’s edition has shown that the most popular miscellanies cannot be read as anthologies; their popularity is not an index of their success in selling the best poetry to the widest possible audience. Miscellanies mediate between the literary appetites of readers and the commercial interests of publishers in more complex ways. As Suarez notes, they illustrate more clearly than other kinds of publication that the reception of a poem depends as much on its publishing history as on its literary qualities (1997, 101).

Miscellanies and the Canon

The essential features of the miscellany form—its privileging of literary variety over authorial personality and of judicious selection over broad-based representation—are seemingly at odds with the processes of canon formation. Critical accounts of the making and remaking of literary canons have tended to support this assessment. For Trevor Ross, the eighteenth century was an era of transition from an older model of canonicity to a modern one.34 In earlier centuries poetry had been written and received in a predominantly rhetorical culture, and ideas of canonicity had been closely connected with the status of poetry as a useful art. The canonical authors were those whose works demonstrated the rhetorical power of poetry and paved the way for new productions. In the eighteenth century this notion of the canon as a model of poetic production faded from view, and a new conception of the canon as an index of reception gained ground. The canonical poets of the new order were those whose works were richest in meaning and affect, and the value of aesthetic experience was promoted by the marketing of printed poetry to mass readerships, the growth of professional literary criticism, and the teaching of English poetry in schools.

The transition from a rhetorical culture to an interpretative one, from production to reception, is an important context for understanding miscellany genres that promote specialized modes of reading. For example, Edward Bysshe’s Art of English Poetry (first published in 1702), one of the most popular verse collections of the century, is half poet’s handbook, half commonplace collection. Bysshe’s miscellany includes a collection of extracts from contemporary and near-contemporary poets alongside a rhyming dictionary and other aids to composition. For Jonathan Brody Kramnick, The Art of English Poetry projects a version of the canon that harks back to the rhetorical culture of the early modern period: Bysshe’s preference for the “smoothness and regularity” of contemporary poetry reinforces the values of the early eighteenth-century social “culture of polite speech.”35 On the other hand, the rise of an interpretative culture has been traced through educational miscellanies. Collections such as James Greenwood’s The Virgin Muse (1717) helped to popularize “the idea that poetry could be taught, and not just presented to pupils.”36 Verse miscellanies for the use of students reflected the growing importance of school curricula and educational programs as sites of canon formation, and by placing increasing emphasis on the teaching of interpretation, rather than composition, they registered a shift toward a canon founded on the moral and social value of aesthetic experience.37

Beyond these specialist genres, however, historians of canon formation have found little evidence that eighteenth-century miscellanies contributed significantly to the redefinition of the canon in this pivotal era. Ross has compared the “anthologies” of this period (a term he uses interchangeably with miscellanies) with the verse collections of the Renaissance, the most influential of which was Richard Tottel’s Songes and Sonettes (1557). Ross’s description of eighteenth-century miscellanies recalls Suarez’s definition of the miscellany as a form that celebrates “novelty and contemporaneity,” leaving the business of canon formation to other kinds of collection:

[M]ost eighteenth-century anthologies, unlike the earlier miscellanies, were not expressly assembled to reshape the canon by promoting composition in any particular kind of literature, just as their editors, unlike their Renaissance predecessors, seemed reluctant to assert their authority as canon-makers, preferring to present their canons as apodictic. (Ross 1998, 226)

Ross is right to observe that few editors of eighteenth-century miscellanies were “expressly” motivated by a desire to furnish models for future poets or present a definitive collection of the best poetry. But the absence of such claims reveals little about the actual functions of these miscellanies. It is necessary to turn to studies of miscellanies themselves to find more detailed explorations of the canon-forming functions of the collections that dominated the market before the advance of anthologies in the latter half of the century.

Recent scholarship has convincingly demonstrated that from its reinvention in the late seventeenth century, the dedicated poetic miscellany played a central role in reshaping the canon both as a model of literary production and as a medium of reception. As has already been discussed, Tonson’s Miscellany Poems and its successors established an influential template for the miscellany form that promoted translation as a central part of English poetic practice. In a verse epistle recommending the Tonsonian model of miscellany production to his own publisher, John Gay suggested that translation enacts a transfer of authority from the classical canon to an English one. Gay’s “On a Miscellany of Poems,” published in Bernard Lintot’s Miscellaneous Poems and Translations (1712), advises the publisher on the composition of a miscellany, assuming that Lintot aspires to “bravely rival Jacob’s mighty Name.”38 As Gillespie and Hopkins note, translation receives “far more extensive treatment” in Gay’s recipe for success than any other genre of miscellany verse (2008, 1:xvii). Gay recommends that

  • Translations should throughout the Work be sown,
  • And Homer’s Godlike Muse be made our own;
  • Horace in useful Numbers should be Sung,
  • And Virgil’s Thoughts adorn the British Tongue;
  • Let every Classick in the Volume shine,
  • And each contribute to thy great Design. (1712, 170)

For Gay, translation does not simply pay homage to the canon of the ancients. Instead, it demonstrates the strength and versatility of “the British Tongue” and announces the readiness of English poets to assume the mantle of canonical status for future generations. The central place of translation in Gay’s conception of a miscellany suggests that for many eighteenth-century readers, the miscellany form represented an important venue for the making of a vernacular canon.39

Eighteenth-century miscellanies also began to establish the outlines of such a canon in their paratexts. Editorial prefaces, as Ross suggests, may have commonly refrained from asserting a hierarchy of authors, but it is important not to overlook the promotional functions of title pages. Countless eighteenth-century miscellanies advertised the names of featured authors on their title pages. Benedict has suggested that authors’ names appeared on title pages more frequently at midcentury, as publishers sought to market their products as compact specimens of a literary culture increasingly crowded with authors. By this time, according to Benedict, miscellanies functioned “as guides through a cluttered literary culture” (1996, 14). But many earlier miscellanies had displayed authors’ names on their title pages, and by arranging and promoting the names of featured poets they performed the accumulative and evaluative functions of a canon.

The title page of Poems on Affairs of State (1697), for example, advertises a collection of political poems from “The Time of Oliver Cromwell, to the Abdication of K. James the Second. Written by the greatest Wits of the Age.”40 The names of these poets are set out in two columns below, an arrangement that preserves the social hierarchy within this group of famous “Wits.” The left-hand column is reserved for titled poets, including Rochester and Sir John Denham, while the right-hand column reads “Mr. Milton, Mr. Dryden, Mr. Sprat, Mr. Waller. Mr. Ayloffe, &c.” The position of John Milton in this listing is somewhat anomalous, as no poems are attributed to Milton in the body of the miscellany. The sole attribution appears in the table of contents, and it is less than confident: “Directions to a Painter, said to be written by Sir John Denham, but believed to be writ by Mr. Milton.”41 Thus, Milton’s authorial presence in the miscellany is a doubtful one, but his place in the pantheon of late seventeenth-century poets that the miscellany advertises is assured. In this 1697 edition and many of its successors, Milton’s place in the ranks of distinguished political poets is announced even before readers open the book. As this example shows, miscellanies may have blurred and disguised authorial ownership of particular texts, but in many cases they also underlined the contribution of individual authors to literary culture. The roll calls of poets that appeared on miscellany title pages thus helped to cultivate “a cultural desire for an English canon” (Benedict 1996, 14).

The emphasis on authorial origins on the title pages of many miscellanies is indicative of a broader shift in eighteenth-century miscellany culture toward author-centric modes of reading and reception. Smyth has asserted that “the most striking difference” between eighteenth-century miscellanies and their seventeenth-century predecessors is that later collections demonstrate “the rise of authorship as a category of literary definition and, in general, an increasing interest in origin” (2004, 174). Whereas almost all of the poems in seventeenth-century miscellanies are presented without attribution, eighteenth-century miscellanies on the whole contain much more information about the authorial origins of particular poems. However, many miscellanies are far from consistent in their attribution practices, and the information they provide is often highly selective and at times misleading. To take just one example, the sixth and final volume of Dodsley’s 1758 Collection of Poems contains attributions citing full names (“By William Whitehead, Esq;”), initials (“By H. T.”), and partially or fully obscured names (“By the Honourable Mr. D––––,” “By * * * *”), as well as an assortment of unattributed poems, some of which were written by poets whose names appear elsewhere in the volume.42 This enigmatic array of attributions seems to have aroused the curiosity of the Collection’s first readers and sparked a hunt for hidden identities. As Suarez remarks, “until the publication of [Isaac] Reed’s annotated edition in 1782, it seems that part of the appeal of the miscellany was the literary pastime of identifying authors with their poems in Dodsley’s miscellany” (1997, 90).

But in eighteenth-century miscellanies generally, unattributed and imprecisely attributed poems are not enigmatic exceptions to the rule of authorial identification; instead, they are ubiquitous, and their prevalence suggests that claims for the rise of author-centric reading in miscellanies of this period need to be qualified. Recent work on the DMI has revealed for the first time the extent to which verse circulated without clear attribution in eighteenth-century miscellanies. Jennifer Batt highlights the key finding that “verse in miscellanies was printed without attribution or was attributed via descriptive epithets, pseudonyms, or partial indications of a poet’s name at least as often as it was printed with a clear and unambiguous identification of an author.”43 The workings of attribution in eighteenth-century miscellanies have yet to be extensively studied, and the data collected by the DMI have enormous potential to shed light on the ways in which authors’ names were deployed, disguised, and omitted in miscellanies in this period. It is clear, however, that eighteenth-century miscellanies participated in a culture of poetic production and consumption in which many texts floated free of authorial ownership. In a study focusing on short lyric verse, Batt has shown how poems traveled and mutated across a range of media, including newspapers, magazines, miscellanies, songbooks, musical performances, and manuscript collections.44 In these media, “[a]nonymity was the default mode for the transmission of many texts,” and “contemporaries frequently had no idea who wrote the poems they were reading, copying, or reciting” (Batt 2011, 416). Eighteenth-century miscellanies, like their early modern predecessors, helped to maintain a repertoire of verse that did not carry a stamp of authorial ownership and could be freely reused and adapted by readers. They have much to reveal about the uses of poetry in a culture in which authors had only limited control over the circulation and appropriation of their work.

Verse miscellanies challenge many of the traditional concerns of literary history. While some eighteenth-century miscellanies have a single author, as the first part of this article illustrates, many more do not. In the majority of cases, publishers and editors, not authors, established the texts and determined the presentation of poems in miscellanies; moreover, practical and financial concerns often governed the choice of poems, overriding such considerations as the quality of the verse or the reputation of the author. A large proportion of the poems in miscellanies appeared without clear attributions, and the authors of many of these poems remain unknown. But recent scholarship has demonstrated that for precisely these reasons, miscellanies offer new and important insights into the relationships among authors, publishers, and readers of poetry in the eighteenth century. In the era of the rise of the novel, miscellanies remind us that poetry remained at the center of the literary marketplace, offering new opportunities for publishers as it continued to entertain and edify readers.


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(1) Michael F. Suarez SJ, “The Formation, Transmission, and Reception of Robert Dodsley’s Collection of Poems by Several Hands,” in A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, ed. Robert Dodsley, with new editorial matter by Michael F. Suarez SJ, 6 vols. (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press, 1997), 1:2.

(2) George Watson, I. R. Willison, and J. D. Pickles, The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, 5 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969–1977), vol. 2, col. 327. An older but still useful bibliography of early modern verse miscellanies is Case (1935).

(3) Michael F. Suarez SJ, “The Production and Consumption of the Eighteenth-Century Poetic Miscellany,” in Books and Their Readers in Eighteenth-Century England: New Essays, ed. Isabel Rivers (London: Continuum, 2001), 217.

(4) For these miscellanies, see NCBEL, vol. 2, cols. 576 (Finch) and 606 (Chatterton). Giles Jacob is not in NCBEL; his Miscellany of Poems is ESTC no. N4172.

(5) Paddy Bullard, “Digital Editing and the Eighteenth-Century Text: Works, Archives, and Miscellanies,” Eighteenth-Century Life 36, no. 3 (2012): 57.

(6) Some of the best recent scholarship on miscellanies is to be found in the editions produced by Gillespie and Hopkins (2008) and Suarez (1997). Other notable editions include those edited by Nichol (2006), Pettit (2002), and Wood (1977–1991).

(7) London Evening Post, September 13, 1759, Burney Collection Newspapers. (accessed December 18, 2015). The publisher’s name does not appear on the title page of The Book of Fun; the imprint reads “Printed for any Body that please to buy it.”

(8) The Poetical Works of the Earls of Rochester, Roscomon, and Dorset, 2 vols. (London, 1757), 1:1.

(9) For more on Hayward’s antiquarian interests, see Sidney Lee, “Hayward, Thomas (d. 1779?),” rev. Michael Bevan, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12795 (accessed December 18, 2015).

(10) William Oldys, Preface to The British Muse, or, A Collection of Thoughts Moral, Natural, and Sublime, of Our English Poets, ed. Thomas Hayward, 3 vols. (London: F. Cogan and J. Nourse, 1738), 1:xviii–xix.

(11) Anne Ferry explains this etymology in Tradition and the Individual Poem: An Inquiry into Anthologies (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), 13.

(12) Adam Rounce, “The Digital Miscellanies Index and the Canon,” Eighteenth-Century Life (forthcoming), special issue on the Digital Miscellanies Index and new directions in miscellanies research.

(13) Thomas Warton, The History of English Poetry, from the Close of the Eleventh to the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century, 4 vols. (London: J. Dodsley and others, 1774–[n.d.]), 3:281 (n.k). Quoted by Richard Terry in Poetry and the Making of the English Literary Past (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 220.

(14) Terry argues that although its preface promotes anthologistic modes of compiling, The British Muse itself conforms to the model of the printed commonplace book; Poetry, 220–223. For a more straightforward reading of The British Muse as a historical anthology, see Barbara M. Benedict, Making the Modern Reader: Cultural Mediation in Early Modern Literary Anthologies (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 167–171.

(15) The preeminent study of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century anthologies is Bonnell (2008). For discussion of an earlier anthology, Poems by Eminent Ladies (1755), which includes biographical accounts of the authors featured, see Lavoie (2009).

(16) Adam Smyth, “Profit and Delight”: Printed Miscellanies in England, 1640–1682 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004); see especially 1–3, 21–29.

(17) Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins, “Introduction: The Dryden-Tonson Miscellanies, 1684–1709,” in The Dryden-Tonson Miscellanies, 1684–1709, ed. Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins, 6 vols. (London: Routledge, 2008), 1:xvi.

(18) For more on Aphra Behn’s roles as a miscellany editor and contributor, see Russell (1998).

(19) For detailed consideration of the relationships between Tonson’s miscellanies and translation projects, see Gillespie and Hopkins, “Introduction,” 1:xxxvi, lvi, xlviii, liii. For an account of the influence of Tonson’s miscellany series, see “Introduction,” 1:lvi–lxi.

(20) For an older but still relevant discussion of the sources of some of this earlier seventeenth-century verse, see Wasserman (1937).

(21) For an overview of developments in the book trade in this period, see Raven (2005).

(22) Paul Baines and Pat Rogers, Edmund Curll, Bookseller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 48.

(23) The quotation is taken from the imprint of The Tunbridge-Miscellany (1713).

(25) Smyth notes the extraordinary longevity of The Academy of Complements in “Profit and Delight”, 10.

(26) Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) and other ballad collections have received considerable attention from scholars, notably Groom (1999) and Newman (2007). An important miscellany of Scots verse, James Watson’s Collection of Comic and Serious Scots Poems (1706), has been the subject of a recent reassessment by Davis (2011).

(28) Simon Dickie, Cruelty and Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental Eighteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); see especially 20–21.

(29) Claudine van Hensbergen, “Unlocking The Cabinet of Love: Rochester, Reputation, and the Eighteenth-Century Miscellany,” Eighteenth-Century Life (forthcoming in a special issue).

(30) James Woolley, “Swift’s Most Popular Poems,” in Reading Swift: Papers from the Sixth Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift, ed. Kirsten Juhas, Hermann J. Real, and Sandra Simon (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2013), 367–382.

(31) The issues touched on here are explored at greater length by Rounce (2014).

(32) Raymond D. Havens, “Changing Taste in the Eighteenth Century: A Study of Dryden’s and Dodsley’s Miscellanies,” PMLA 44, no. 2 (1929): 501–536.

(33) Robert Dodsley, ed., A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, with new editorial matter by Michael F. Suarez SJ, 6 vols. (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press, 1997), 1:1–2.

(34) Trevor Ross, The Making of the English Literary Canon: From the Middle Ages to the Late Eighteenth Century (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), especially the introduction and Part Four. This overview is indebted to Ross’s analysis.

(35) Jonathan Brody Kramnick, Making the English Canon: Print-Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700–1770 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 20–21.

(36) Ian Michael, The Teaching of English: From the Sixteenth Century to 1870 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 171. Quoted by Ross in Making of the English Literary Canon, 222.

(37) Ross discusses the rise of interpretation and the role of educators in canon formation in Making of the English Literary Canon, 221–225.

(38) John Gay, “On a Miscellany of Poems,” in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations (London: Bernard Lintot, 1712), 169.

(39) For more on the relationship between translations and the English canon in this period, see Stuart Gillespie, “Translation and Canon-Formation,” in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, ed. Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins, vol. 3, 1660–1790 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 7–20.

(40) Poems on Affairs of State: From the Time of Oliver Cromwell, to the Abdication of K. James the Second ([London], 1697). The edition consulted is ESTC no. R26563.

(41) Poems on Affairs of State, sig. A4r. The 1697 edition contains a series of four “Directions to a Painter” poems; the following three are listed in the table of contents as “by the same” (i.e., by Denham or Milton). Neither attribution is accepted by modern scholars. In the twentieth-century Poems on Affairs of State compilation, George deF. Lord attributes the first two to Andrew Marvell and describes the authorship of the last two as unknown; George deF. Lord, ed., Poems on Affairs of State, vol. 1, 1660–1678 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1963), 34–53, 67–87, 140–152.

(42) The attributions quoted here are taken from Robert Dodsley, ed., A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes, 6 vols. (London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1758), 6:37, 126, 129, 217.

(43) Jennifer Batt, “‘I Know Not Who Was the Author’: Disputed Authorship in the Digital Miscellanies Index,” Eighteenth-Century Life (forthcoming).

(44) Jennifer Batt, “‘It Ought Not to Be Lost to the World’: The Transmission and Consumption of Eighteenth-Century Lyric Verse,” Review of English Studies 62, no. 255 (2011): 414–432.