Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

The collected prose works of Robert Southey (SOW-thee, also SUHTH-ee) comprise almost forty volumes, ranging from literary criticism to biography, from fiction to translations. Letters from England by Don Manuel Espriella (1807) is a satiric commentary on everyday life in contemporary England, while Sir Thomas More (1829) reveals Southey again examining society, this time by way of conversations between the spirit of the departed More and Montesimos (Southey himself). His so-called novel, the seven-volume The Doctor (1834-1847), concerns Dr. Daniel Dove of Doncaster and his horse Nobs; as a fantasy and a commentary on life, the excruciatingly lengthy piece reminds one of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1759-1767)—without the artistic qualities of that remarkable work of fiction. Hidden within chapter 129 of Southey’s effort lies the first-known telling of the nursery classic “The Three Bears.”

Life of Nelson (1813) and Life of Wesley and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820) head the list of Southey’s biographical studies. Others of note include A Summary of the Life of Arthur, Duke of Wellington (1816); the Life of John, Duke of Marlborough (1822); Lives of the British Admirals (1833-1840); and The Life of the Rev. Andrew Bell (1844, one volume only), the Scottish-born educationist who founded the National Society for the Education of the Poor. Southey’s historical writings include the History of Brazil (1810-1819), The History of Europe (1810-1813), and the History of the Peninsular War (1823-1832). In 1812, Southey published The Origin, Nature, and Object of the New System of Education. This was followed by The Book of the Church (1824), Vindiciae Ecclesiae Anglicanae (1826), and Essays Moral and Political (1832).

Southey was also an editor and translator. Among his edited works are The Annual Anthology (1799-1800), The Works of Chatterton (1803, with Joseph Cottle), Palmerin of England (1807), Isaac Watts’s Horae Lyricae (1834), and The Works of William Cowper (1835-1837). Southey’s notable translations include Jacques Necker’s On the French Revolution (1797), Vasco Lobeira’s Amadis de Gaul (1805), the Chronicle of the Cid (1808), Abbe Don Ignatius Molina’s The Geographical, Natural, and Civil History of Chili (1808), and Memoria Sobre a Litteratura Portugueza (1809).