The Romantic period in English Literature gave many famous novels and literature. This period falls during the early 18th century to the mid-19th century. This period is also known as the Georgian Era. The romanticism worked as a major social reforming movement in England.
Social Factor Behind Romanticism
The reason behind this movement was that the people from the countryside were moving towards the rapidly developing, overcrowded industrial areas in the city. This was the result of two major forces. One was the Agricultural or Farm Revolution and the other was the Industrial Revolution. Romanticism might be considered as the reaction of these two forces against the aristocratic political and social norms of that time.
Marriage and Romance
A classic topic for Georgian Romance would be about marriage. In the Georgian era, the romance would come second place, suitability and stability being the first. Parents were involved majorly in the matchmaking process. The social condition was that romance and love could be considered as a benefit to marriage, instead of being the necessity.
Balls were the best occasion for such social cum matchmaking process where a young gentleman would look for the girl of his like. This kind of social gathering was the best place for romance to begin. A very famous romantic novel of Georgian Era named “Pride and Prejudice” written by Jane Austen highlighted the excitement of these social events in her book.
Romantic Novel Authors and Books
Few of the famous romantic novelist of Georgian Era are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walter Scott, George Meredith, and Jane Austen. The other literary artists who wrote a romantic poem during that time are William Blake, Samuel Taylor, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, and George Byron.
Gothic Fiction – Extreme Form of Romanticism
Horace Walpole invented the genre ‘Gothic Fiction’ very first time with his classic 1764 novel named “The Castle of Otranto’. This type of genre is the combination of horror, fiction, and largely romance. This kind of literature was new at the time of the novel published.
This type of genre then followed by other novelists such as Clara Reeve, William Thomas Beckford, and Ann Radcliffe. Gothic Genre was considered as the extreme form of romanticism which became which was being highly accepted in England and throughout Europe.
Clara Reeve wrote her gothic novel named “The Old English Baron” in 1778. The design of the novel in the words of Reeve was “the most interesting and attractive aspects of the ancient Romance and modern Novel.”Ann Radcliffe developed the romantic Gothic genre with supernatural theory. Her famous work includes ‘A Sicilian Romance’ written in 1790, and ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ written in 1794.
The Sentimental Genre and Jane Austen
Jane Austin is recognized for her critical work with the sentimental genre of romantic novel and for the transition of the Romantic Era from the second half of the 18th century to the 19th century. Her novels mainly focused on the difficulties women face in her day to day life, where they did not inherit money or could not go to work to stand on her own feet financially and socially. Her novels were full of wit and humor though giving the social message in the genre of romance and sentimental.
Her very famous work includes her romantic novel named “Pride and Prejudice” which was written by her in 1813. Other notable works from Jane are “Sense and Sensibility” in 1811 and “Mansfield Park”.
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, born in 1771, was a famous novelist in the mid of Georgian Era who is considered as “the greatest single influence on fiction and romance in the 19th century”. He is known for his historical novel series “Waverley Novels”, “The Antiquary” and “The Heart of Midlothian”. Scott is seldom read these days, whereas the novels by Jane are read even today which provides a reference for films, story writers and television series till date.
Other Notable Novels and Vampire Genre
Mary Shelley wrote a very famous romantic novel ‘Frankenstein’ in 1818. This book is an early illustration of Science Fiction stories. The book is inserted with the elements of the Romantic Movement, horror fiction, and science fiction. The other genre developed as part of the romanticism movement was the Vampire Genre, initiated by John William Polidori with his famous novels “The Vampyre” written in 1819, and then “Varney the Vampire” in 1845.
Other notable works are “Vathek” by William Beckford wrote in 1786 and “The Monk” written by Matthew Lewis in 1796.
Georgian Era Romantic Novels in 19th and 20th Century
There are numerous books which are written during the late 19th and 20th century based on the plot of Georgian Era romanticism. A novelist such as Elizabeth Hoyt, Isabella Bradford, Laura Kinsale, and Helen Dickson lead the books which are written on the romanticism during Georgian Era.
Few of such famous books are:
- Maiden Lane Series by Elizabeth Hoyt
- Wylder sister series by Isabella Bradford
- The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale
- Prince Trilogy by Elizabeth Hoyt
- A wedding by Dawn by Alison Delaine
- Desperate Duchesses Series by Eloisa James
- A Wager for Love by Caroline Courtney