London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, Felicity James and Crystal Biggin, Friday 27 January 2023, Senate House, London

The next meeting of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will be held on Friday 27 January 2023 in Room G4, Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30pm. As our guest speakers, we are delighted to welcome Dr Felicity James of the University of Leicester and her research assistant Dr Crystal Biggin, who will together present a paper entitled Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and the Godwins’ Juvenile Library. This will be followed by a discussion and wine reception, to which all are invited. The seminar will be chaired by Gregory Dart (University College London).

The event is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. No booking is required.

Felicity James is Associate Professor of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century English Literature at the University of Leicester. Her research focusses on Charles and Mary Lamb and their friendship circle, including Coleridge and Wordsworth, religious Dissent and life writing. She is currently editing the children’s works of the Lambs for the Oxford Collected Works. Her other publications include the forgotten novel of Elizabeth Hays Lanfear, Fatal Errors; or Poor Mary-Anne: A Tale of the Last Century (2019), coedited with Timothy Whelan, Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Auto/Biography with Julian North (2017), Religious Dissent and the Aikin-Barbauld Circle, 1740–1860 (2011), and Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s (2008).   

Crystal Biggin recently completed her doctorate at the University of Leicester. Her PhD explored the significance of a variety of material as well as textual features of women writing in response to Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novels in the 1740s and 1750s. She is currently working as a Research Assistant on the Oxford Collected Works of Charles and Mary Lamb and is revising materials from her thesis for publication. 

Regarding the topic of their paper, Felicity and Crystal write:

‘This paper reads Shakespeare with, and through, the Lambs, from chapbook to fireside conversation. Taking as our starting point Charles’ re-telling of ‘King Lear’, we show the importance of reading afresh the Tales from Shakespear, and understanding the implications of the Lambs’ work for children. Charles and Mary Lamb’s creative collaborations remain one of the lesser told stories of Romantic literature, despite the influence of their writing through the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. The new Oxford edition of their Collected Works, the first since 1912, aims to redress the balance: this paper will give an insight into our work on the volume containing their children’s writing. All the Lambs’ works for children were published by the Godwins’ Juvenile Library, and this publication context is of particular interest: literary, biographical and political. We will trace the evolution of the Tales as stories and as books, thinking, first, about the Lambs’ strategies of characterisation and adaptation, then about the editorial and practical decisions of the Godwins as they printed and advertised the work, before exploring the way the Tales embed themselves in larger Romantic conversations about Shakespeare.’