'Eventless' horizons? The future for T. E. Brown and 'minor' Victorian writers

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In this paper I will consider what the future looks like for the study of ‘minor’ Victorian writers. Digital archiving gives us unprecedented access to their published works, but if no-one else reads, knows or values them, is it sustainable for individual scholars to continue to research and discuss their works, or to try to edit and curate their legacies?

I will explore these questions through a case study of the poet T. E. Brown (1830-1897), focussing particularly on three events in Brown’s life and afterlife: the event of Brown’s death in 1897, which was followed quite quickly by publication of his collected poems and letters in 1900; the events of his centenary in 1930, which was extensively celebrated on the Isle of Man, his birthplace, leading to his recognition as the ‘national poet’ of the island; and the future event of his bicentenary in 2030.

Brown would seem to be in a better position than many relatively unknown Victorian writers, since he potentially connects with two different audiences: originally, a ‘literary’ audience of influential academic friends and admirers in England; and subsequently a ‘national’ audience on the Isle of Man. These two connections came together productively for Brown’s 1930 centenary but, a hundred years on, questions about who knows Brown’s works, how he should be celebrated, and what he should be celebrated for, will not be so straightforward to answer. A related question is whether the outdated 1900 texts, in the absence of any modern editions, will remain the standard source for references to Brown’s writings in 2030 and beyond – and what form any new edition could take.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - Jun 2024
EventVictorian Events : Stirling Hub of Flightless conference sponsored by BAVS / NAVSA / AVSA and other Victorian Studies associations - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sept 20245 Sept 2024

Academic conference

Academic conferenceVictorian Events
Abbreviated titleEvent 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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