Lyrical Ballads and Occult Identities

  • Stephanie Elizabeth Churms
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


This chapter focuses on Wordsworth’s contributions to the 1798 edition of Lyrical Ballads, revealing the ways in which the volume engages with the practice of, and belief in, popular magic as a vehicle for the empowerment of the socially disenfranchised. I focus in particular on readings of ‘Goody Blake and Harry Gill’ and ‘The Thorn’ in order to explore the role of the cunning woman as a figure of potential social emancipation. The chapter also reveals the transatlantic dynamics of Wordsworth’s investments in cultures of popular magic, offering a taxonomy that sees ‘The Complaint of the Forsaken Indian Women’ and ‘The Mad Mother’, along with ‘Goody Blake and Harry Gill’ and ‘The Thorn’, as a nexus of ‘spell poems’.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Elizabeth Churms
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarSurreyUK

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