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Starlight Wood: Walking Back to the Romantic Countryside

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Fiona Sampson

Sunday 9th October 15:40 - 16:40 | Ballroom

But for the Romantics themselves, the countryside was a place where radical change was underway both within and around them. ‘Romanticism isn’t a cultural artefact; it’s a way for thought to move,’ writes highly acclaimed biographer and poet Fiona Sampson in this transporting and vividly evocative book, in which she spends a year walking in the Romantic’s footsteps. Setting out across ten landscapes, as the Romantics once did as they wrote, travelled, settled, or tried to define the rural environment, Sampson walks not with a sense of nostalgic cliche′, but radically alive to interaction between the human and the natural world.

Starlight Wood is part group biography, part cultural history, and part an essay about place. Sampson shows how Percy Bysshe Shelley and Elizabeth Barrett Browning used diet as a symbol of radicalism, and John Constable revealing the emptiness of post-Enclosure British countryside; while the young William Wordsworth follows the ideal of radical sensibility into the heart of Revolutionary France. Bringing it closer to home, Sampson shares her thoughts on Alfred, Lord Tennyson and her walk on Tennyson Down.




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