Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




To classify the origins of the Romantic Period of Literature, a period whose members include Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats, is not an easy task. Many literary historians have attributed its beginnings to the days of Christ in Palestine and also to the Shakespearian Period. But more directly influential than either one of the above was the so-called Pre-Romantic Movement that began in the early eighteenth century. The movement from Pre-Romantic characteristics to Romantic ones in literature was not at all an obvious one, primarily because the Pre-Romantics themselves did not realize what sort of trend was developing, nor would any of them be capable of understanding what was meant by the word "Romanticism" because none of them had heard the word before, at least not in the context of literature. In addition to their ignorance of what Romanticism was, the Pre-Romantics were greatly influenced by the Classical writers and their age. One of the most important figures of this Pre-Romantic Movement, a man who seemed to possess an insight into what was coming over English Literature, was Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713).