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Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845$
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Porscha Fermanis and John Regan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687084

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687084.001.0001

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Historical Fiction and the Fractured Atlantic

Historical Fiction and the Fractured Atlantic

(p.246) 11 Historical Fiction and the Fractured Atlantic
Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845

Fiona Robertson

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws parallels between the reluctance of British Romantic writers to lay claim to the history of the American colonies and more recent attempts to categorize Romanticism as a distinctively European intellectual force beginning with the French Revolution. More specifically, the chapter argues that the intertextuality between Charlotte Smith’s novel The Old Manor House (1793), Walter Scott’s Waverley (1814), and his short-story ‘The Tapestried Chamber’ suggests an entirely different plot-line in literary history, in which British defeats during the War of Independence come back to haunt a seminal British historical novel. Such a suggestion not only disrupts the supposedly ‘natural’ history of the development of British historical fiction, but also has significant implications for historical writing in a period of ‘fracture’, which tends to represent American independence not just as a political break but also as a break in a narrative line.

Keywords:   fracture, United States, Charlotte Smith, The Old Manor House, Walter Scott, Waverley, The Tapestried Chamber, historical fiction, American War of Independence, Saratoga

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