Thomas Holcroft Criticism - Essay

Elbridge Colby (essay date 1922)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to A Bibliography of Thomas Holcroft, The New York Public Library, 1922, pp. 7-31.

[In the following excerpt, Colby provides an overview of Holcroft's writings, supplementing Hazlitt's biography with newly available information.]

It seems that the hour has come for a fuller and clearer consideration of the life of Thomas Holcroft. A hundred years have passed since Hazlitt published Holcroft's narrative of his own boyhood, and supplemented it with such facts as were then available among the notes, papers, diary, letters, and published writings. It may, of course, appear a bit presumptuous to try to add to the value of Hazlitt's...

(The entire section is 13050 words.)

Elbridge Colby (essay date 1925)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction toThe Life of Thomas Holcroft, Constable & Company, 1925, pp. xv-lv.

[In the following excerpt, Colby surveys Holcroft's life and works.]

Tom Moore once said that he rated the autobiographies of Holcroft and of Gifford “the two most interesting specimens in the language.” A hundred years have passed since the remark was made by Moore, and the relative merits of the present volume may be less. Yet its absolute and intrinsic value is still very great. As a novelist, Holcroft was undistinguished. As a playwright, he was commonplace, in spite of undoubted successes, in spite of the distinction attaching to his name by his piracy of Le...

(The entire section is 10594 words.)

Virgil Rudolph Stallbaumer (essay date 1936)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Thomas Holcroft: A Satirist in the Stream of Sentimentalism” in Thomas Holcroft: Radical and Man of Letters, Johns Hopkins University, 1936, pp. 31-62.

[In the following essay, which originally appeared in the March 1936 issue of ELH: A Journal of English Literary History, Stallbaumer traces Holcroft's development as a dramatist, outlining the way in which he was shaped by the popular demand for sentimentality.]

When Thomas Holcroft came to town, like Moliére, after years of experience as a strolling player, he felt he was ready to turn playwright; for he had been “highly approved in the country.” During his years of apprenticeship from 1770 to...

(The entire section is 12206 words.)

Janie Teissedou (essay date 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Holcroft: A Radical Novelist” in Politics in Literature in the Nineteenth Century, Editions Universitaires, 1974, pp. 11-30.

[In the essay below, Teissedou notes evidence of Holcroft's revolutionary activities and views in his life and works.]

The mere mention of English radicalism immediately brings to one's mind the memory of such great men and women as William Godwin, Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. They are supposed to be, and undoubtedly were, the leaders of that great movement, which started at the end of the 18th century and developed throughout the 19th century. Yet, it would be most unfair to remember those names only, since other militants...

(The entire section is 6254 words.)

P. M. Zall (essay date 1980)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Cool World of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Thomas Holcroft, Hyperhack,”The Wordsworth Circle, Vol. XI, No. 4, Autumn, 1980, pp. 212-14.

[In the following essay, Zall summarizes Holcroft's career, highlighting his high level of productivity and many hardships.]

Hazlitt edited his memoirs and more recently the Oxford Press exhumed two of his Jacobinical novels, else the voice of Thomas Holcroft would no longer be heard in the land. How different from his own time when that voice was hard to avoid. After Coleridge met Holcroft in person, someone asked how he had struck him, and Coleridge quipped, “I felt myself in more danger of being struck by...

(The entire section is 2637 words.)

Joseph Rosenblum (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Novelist” in Thomas Holcroft: Literature and Politics in England in the Age of the French Revolution, The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995, pp. 71-98.

[In the excerpt below, Rosenblum traces the development of Holcroft as a novelist and argues that he deserves recognition for his experimental work in the novel, particularly in Anna St. Ives, Hugh Trevor, and parts of Bryan Perdue.]


Holcroft's treatment of the novel was similar to that of the drama not only in theory but also in practice. It is worthwhile to examine some of these general similarities before turning to an investigation of...

(The entire section is 10476 words.)