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Fostering an Irish writers' circle: a revisionist reading of the life and works of Samuel Thomson, an Ulster poet (1766-1816)

Orr, Jennifer (2011) Fostering an Irish writers' circle: a revisionist reading of the life and works of Samuel Thomson, an Ulster poet (1766-1816). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The Ulster poet Samuel Thomson (1766-1816) experienced a brief period of fame during the 1790s and early 1800s when he published three volumes of verse and became a regular contributor of poetry to Belfast newspapers and journals. Known in popular memory as the ‘Bard of Carngranny’, Thomson had been closely associated with many radical activists who participated in the 1798 Rebellion, although it has never been established if he himself took part in the armed rising. His earlier poems, many of which are written in the vernacular Scots language, celebrate and parody local life in the rural North of Ireland. This study examines Thomson’s significance as a literary artist; an initiator of literary discussion and correspondence; and the father of a Northern school of Irish poets who span the cusp where eighteenth-century Augustanism and first generation Romanticism meet. Through the thorough examination of a range of evidence from published editions, public press and journal contributions, to the poet’s manuscripts, this study investigates Thomson’s work against the political, social, historical, and theological contexts which informed its composition. It attempts the first full reconstruction of Samuel Thomson’s life and career, paying particular attention to his correspondence and his last volume of verse, Simple Poems on a Few Subjects (1806) which has rarely been scrutinised in any detail. It highlights Thomson’s desire to assume a bardic role as an enthusiastic young radical who identified cultural similarities between his corner of Ireland and Robert Burns’s Ayrshire. The thesis also traces his enduring political engagement. While Thomson’s political radicalism may have cooled during the Union period, it was substituted for a radical spiritualism that adopts some of the visionary traits of early Romantic poetry.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Thesis contains quotations from Trinity College Dublin Manuscript correspondence. The author gratefully acknowledges the Board of Trinity College Dublin.
Keywords: Revisionism, poetry, Irish, Scottish, Ulster, rhyming weavers, Samuel Thomson, Robert Burns, 1790s, United Irishmen, romanticism, epistolary, fraternal, Antrim, radical
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Carruthers, Dr. Gerard
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr Jennifer Orr
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2664
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2011
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2014 10:45
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2664

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