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Bards, priests and prophets: the newspaper poets of the South African War (1899-1902)

Rawlinson-Mills, Elizabeth; (2021) Bards, priests and prophets: the newspaper poets of the South African War (1899-1902). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Hundreds of poems were published in British daily newspapers during the South African War. Serious poets and enthusiastic amateurs, serving soldiers and anonymous correspondents chose newspaper publication, self-consciously assuming a range of public roles. The thesis begins by considering the functions of bard, priest and prophet as alternative models for wartime newspaper poets, who were called upon to contribute to public debates about British character and culture, imperial ambition and international policy. Poems circulated nationally and internationally, and readers responded with performances, parodies, censure and debate, subjecting newspaper poets to political and literary scrutiny. The second section of the thesis is concerned with representations of masculinity and gentlemanliness, showing how poets took on Kipling’s voices and verse forms in order to articulate different visions of military manliness, and thus to proffer alternative ways of conceptualising imperial Britain’s national character. The third section is concerned with representations of the South African landscape, showing how wartime newspaper poets mediated the war to civilian newspaper readers by adapting and subverting tropes of earlier imperial landscape writing, in particular in their representations of war deaths. Meditating on this ultimate intimacy between body and land, poets both perform and moderate imperial anxieties through a cartography of remembering. A short concluding chapter centres on a figure in the metropolitan landscape: the ragged newspaper boy. The newsboy is closely related to Tommy Atkins; but he is also connected, in a number of poems, with the newspaper poet: the bodies – and the contested roles – of the British soldier, the newsboy and the wartime poet coincide. The stereotype of newspaper verse as uniformly patriotic doggerel, compounded by a disciplinary bias against ephemeral and anonymous material, has contributed to critical neglect; this thesis argues that the newspaper poetry of 1899-1902 is an important site of social and literary engagement.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Bards, priests and prophets: the newspaper poets of the South African War (1899-1902)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130351
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