Linda K. Hughes, Addie Levy Professor of Literature at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, is the author of The Manyfaced Glass: Tennyson’s Dramatic Monologues (Ohio, 1987), New Woman Poets: An Anthology, and, with Michael Lund, The Victorian Serial and Victorian Publishing and Mrs. Gaskell’s Work.
Late nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented explosion of visual print culture and a simultaneous rise in literacy across social classes. New printing technologies facilitated quick and cheap dissemination of images—illustrated books, periodicals, cartoons, comics, and ephemera—to a mass readership. This Victorian visual turn prefigured the present-day impact of the Internet on how images are produced and shared, both driving and reflecting the visual culture of its time.
The hazy settings and amorphous auditors of Tennyson’s dramatic monologues are often contrasted—at Tennyson’s expense—with Browning’s more vivid, concrete realizations. Hughes argues that Tennyson’s achievements in the genre are, in fact, considerable, that his influence can be traced in such major figures as T. S. Eliot, and that the monologue occupies a far more central position in Tennyson’s poetic achievement than has hitherto been acknowledged.
Rosamund Marriott Watson was a gifted poet, an erudite literary and art critic, and a daring beauty whose life illuminates fin-de-siècle London and the way in which literary reputations are made—and lost. A participant in aestheticism and decadence, she wrote six volumes of poems noted for their subtle cadence, diction, and uncanny effects.