‘A Scholar, a Gentleman, and a Christian’: John Josias Conybeare (1779-1824) and his 'Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry' (1826)

Bray, Robyn (2013) ‘A Scholar, a Gentleman, and a Christian’: John Josias Conybeare (1779-1824) and his 'Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry' (1826). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3008155


This thesis contextualises the life and work of John Josias Conybeare (1779-1824), one of the first to hold the Rawlinson chair of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford, and considers his contribution to the development of Old English studies as a discipline. I argue that he has been unduly marginalised as a result of posthumous criticism that has failed to acknowledge the extent of his contribution to Old English scholarship.

Part I of the thesis considers this issue from the perspective of John Josias himself, setting him in the context of the period in which he lived and the longer continuum of Old English studies as a whole. It also reconstructs what is known of his associates and friends, illustrating that he occupied a central position among the literati of his day alongside figures such as Thomas Gaisford (1779-1855), Joseph Hunter (1783-1861), Robert Southey (1774-1843), and Sharon Turner (1768-1847).

Part II focuses on Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (1826), the scholar’s most well-known and significant contribution to Old English studies, which was published posthumously by John Josias’ brother, William Daniel (1787-1857), and widow, Mary (1790-1848). This section traces the composition of the book from its first conception through to its final publication and critical reception, using previously unpublished correspondence to disambiguate the contribution of the author from that of his editors. This is followed by an examination of John Josias’ ability as an early editor of Old English, which critically evaluates some of his transcriptions, translations, and interpretations as they appeared in Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry, with particular attention to his work on Widsith and the Exeter Book.

Part III contains transcripts of unpublished correspondence and other documents that provide details about John Josias’ life and, in particular, about the preparation and posthumous publication of his Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. This thesis, which brings together genealogical, scholarly, and archival materials, constitutes the first comprehensive study of his life and work. My reassessment of his scholarship concludes that John Josias in fact made a substantial and influential contribution to the discipline, deserving of greater recognition today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: John Josias Conybeare, William Daniel Conybeare, Mary Conybeare, Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry, Old English, Anglo-Saxon, Exeter Book, Beowulf, Anglo-Saxonism, philology, philologists, antiquarian, Society of Antiquaries, origins, correspondence, nineteenth century, University of Oxford, Romantics, editing, transcription, Cædmon’s Hymn, Caedmon's Hymn, Widsith, Samuel Henshall, Sharon Turner, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Southey, Joseph Bosworth, William Buckland, Robert Cotton, Francis Junius, John Mitchell Kemble, Frederic Madden, George Hickes, David Hume, Joseph Hunter, Matthew Parker, James Ingram, Samuel Johnson, Richard Price, Benjamin Thorpe, Edward Thwaites, Rasmus Christian Rask, John Horne Tooke, Richard Rawlinson, Humfrey Wanley, Thomas Warton, Grímur Jónsson Thorkelin
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Lowe, Dr. Kathryn A.
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Robyn Bray
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4709
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 08:43
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2014 12:57
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/4709

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