I began this book by considering the enormous increase in literary publication at the start of what we conventionally deem the Romantic period; I will close by considering the waning vitality of print publication in the genre considered so central to the Romantic project, that of poetry, at the period’s end. According to Lee Erickson, sales of new volumes of poetry peaked in 1820 (three hundred and twenty books total, of which two hundred were new titles); thereafter, the number of titles declined, taking a sharp downward turn after the bank failures of 1825–6, from which they would not recover for some time (Economy 26). By 1832, the entire catalog of poetry had sunk to one hundred and ten volumes, of which only seventy-two were new titles, barely a third as many as were published a decade earlier (Erickson, Economy 26). Erickson explains this decline in terms of increased competition from less expensive periodicals and, above all, the literary annuals, which began to gain popularity in the 1820s. Although, as collective volumes, they included poetry and prose from many different authors, the annuals were not, for reasons that I will briefly explore, conducive to family authorship, and indeed they suggest the limits of the phenomenon at the close of the Romantic period.


Romantic Period Bank Failure Literary Annual Gift Economy Commercial Nature 
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© Michelle Levy 2008

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  • Michelle Levy

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