Thomas Hood Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

As a journalist, Thomas Hood contributed prose as well as poetry to such periodicals as the London Magazine, The New Monthly Magazine, and Hood’s Magazine and Comic Miscellany. He also wrote drama criticism for The Atlas for several months in 1826, before trying to write dramatic pieces of his own. In 1828, he wrote an ill-fated farce, York and Lancaster: Or, A School Without Scholars, for the theater manager Frederick Henry Yates, and followed this unsuccessful attempt with at least two more burlesques that have been lost in whole or in part. He wrote two closet dramas that were not published until after his death: Lamia: A Romance (pb. 1852) based on John Keats’s poem of the same title, and Guido and Marina: A Dramatic Sketch (pb. 1882), a romantic dialogue.

Hood did numerous etchings and drawings for his publications and had others executed under his direction. His best-known engraving, “The Progress of Cant,” a large Hogarthian-style work published in 1825, shows a rag-tag parade of Londoners bearing signs and banners to proclaim their favorite causes and philosophies, meanwhile exhibiting their contrary actions.

Encouraged by the early success of his first volumes of comic verse, Hood published a two-volume collection of short stories titled National Tales in 1827; unfortunately, just as his attempts to write drama demonstrated his lack of dramatic skill, the...

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Thomas Hood Achievements

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Thomas Hood’s position in the generally overlooked period between the end of the Romantic movement and the beginning of the Victorian era has caused his true importance to be greatly underestimated. Although he can scarcely be called one of the giants of English poetry, his achievements are far from insignificant. His primary contributions to English letters have been fourfold: the refinement of English poetic humor, the popularization of poetry, the sympathetic portrayal of common English domesticity, and the arousal of humanitarian sentiments on a popular level.

Hood’s comic verse—of which the amount is greater than and the quality superior to the work of any other English or American poet—evolved into what J. C. Reid calls “a highly individual amalgam of the farcical and the sinister, the pathetic and the ghoulish, that has few ancestors but many heirs.” Hood’s peculiar style did not preclude his diverse experimentation, whereby he often imitated and improved on earlier comic techniques. He remains without rival in the use of the pun. He left a legacy of humorous poetry so varied that it not only provides a smooth transition from the often acrimonious wit of the eighteenth century—with none of the acrimony—but also often anticipates comic techniques and themes that died with Hood until they were resurrected in the twentieth century, especially in the dark or grotesque humor of writers such as Franz Kafka.

Because Hood made...

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Thomas Hood Bibliography

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Brander, Laurence. Thomas Hood. London: Longmans, Green, 1963. Discusses Hood’s early and later poems, as well as the public poems, for which Hood is remembered the most.

Clubbe, John. Victorian Forerunner: The Later Career of Thomas Hood. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1968. A scholarly and important contribution to the literary criticism available on Hood’s later poems. Clubbe asserts that Hood wrote many of his most memorable poems in the last decade of his life.

Edgecombe, Rodney Stenning. A Self-Divided Poet: Form and Texture in the Verse of Thomas Hood. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2007. This in-depth examination of the poetry of Hood looks at his style in both the serious and lighter poems.

Jeffrey, Lloyd N. Thomas Hood. New York: Twayne, 1972. This introduction to Hood’s poetry argues for the intrinsic value of his work despite his being overshadowed by the Romantics. Views the study of Hood’s poems as an important lead into nineteenth century literature. Discusses his poetry selectively and devotes one chapter to the macabre and grotesque in his works.

Jerrold, Walter. Thomas Hood: His Life and Times. 1907. Reprint. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969. A full account of Hood’s life with critical commentary of his poems. An important work for Hood scholars.

Lodge, Sara. Thomas Hood and Nineteenth-Century Poetry: Work, Play and Politics. New York: Manchester University Press, 2007. A biography of Hood that looks at his life and writings, with a chapter on the grotesque and one on humour.

Reid, J. C. Thomas Hood. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963. A full-length biographical and critical study of Hood. Well researched and sympathetic in its approach to this poet.