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Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism

, 216 pages

26 b&w illus.

August 2013



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Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism investigates the entwined histories of the advertising industry and the gradual commodification of literature over the course of the Romantic Century (1750–1850). In this engaging and detailed study, Nicholas Mason argues that the seemingly antagonistic arenas of marketing and literature share a common genealogy and, in many instances, even a symbiotic relationship.

Drawing from archival materials such as publishers' account books, merchants' trade cards, and authors' letters, Mason traces the beginnings of many familiar modern advertising methods—including product placement, limited-time offers, and journalistic puffery—to the British book trade during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until now, Romantic scholars have not fully recognized advertising’s cultural significance or the importance of this period in the origins of modern advertising. Mason explores Lord Byron’s appropriation of branding, Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s experiments in visual marketing, and late-Romantic debates over advertising's claim to be a new branch of the literary arts. Mason uses the antics of Romantic-era advertising to illustrate the profound implications of commercial modernity, both in economic practices governing the book trade and, more broadly, in the development of the modern idea of literature.

Nicholas Mason is an associate professor of English at Brigham Young University.

"A well-written, thoroughly researched, and impressively argued project. Mason has produced a timely and important addition that will do a great deal to clarify and enrich an already energetic set of debates. This book will become required reading for anyone interested in the rich connections between advertising, cultures of modernity, and Romantic literature."

"A book that has an entire chapter on Lord Byron and 'branding'— who would not be intrigued?... Highly Recommended."

"This book substantially enriches our understanding not just of British Romanticism but also of the history of advertising... The book's thoroughly historical argument works within the sub-fields of print culture and material culture to reveal the intimate connections between consumer culture and literary writing... Mason's work performs a number of valuable services for the study of Romanticism... This book deserves attention."

"Mason's Literary Advertising provides a valuable contribution to our understanding of how the Romantic literary system actually worked... Mason persuasivley shows how thoroughly connected art and commerce became in the period despite Romantic posturing about artistic independence."

" Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism helpfully chronicles the rise of advertising in periodicals, highlighting its methods and subjects... A valuable book."

"Mason's book is a timely corrective to the outdated idea that Romantic reviewing was a practice of nonstop aggression."

"As Nicholas Mason notes in his well-rounded study of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century advertising history and literary culture, today's promotional culture owes a great deal to methods pioneered by key figures of the Georgian and Romantic period."

"Literary Advertising effectively draws the right kind of critical attention to the multiple ways in which the trade in Romantic poetic productions both influenced and commercially exploited innovative marketing techniques that quickly became industry norms in the nineteenth century; furthermore, Mason is persuasive in his concluding arguments, supported by testimony from period writers, editors, and booksellers themselves..."

"Nicholas Mason's Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism is an illuminating reminder of the importance of economics and system in the production of the literature that we have come to call Romantic."

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