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Publisher Description

It is as a poet that Swinburne holds his place in the history of English literature, but poetry was not the only medium in which his creative energy found expression. As well as several short stories, Swinburne appears to have made four attempts at the composition of a novel. The earliest of these, a fragment (now Ashley MS 5257 in the British Library) known as the "Kirklowes" fragment, and entitled by Randolph Hughes "Reginald Harewood" was composed circa 1861-1862. The fragment was published by Hughes in 1952. (1) Next in time came the only completed work, and the only one published in the author's lifetime, "Love's Cross-Currents," or "A Year's Letters." Written in 1862-1863, (2) the novel was not published until 1877, when it was serialized in the Tatler between August and December, with the title "A Year's Letters, By Mrs. Horace Manners," the difficulty experienced in finding a publisher being not a little aggravated by the author's insistence on anonymity. The work was reprinted in book form as Love's Cross-Currents in 1905, and at that time acknowledged as being by Swinburne. Hughes (pp. 319-330) suggests that the fragments "Uses of Prosody" and the letter from Arden Major to Lady Waristoun (3) bound up with the MS of "Lesbia Brandon," together with the draft synopsis, (4) constitute all that remains, and possibly all that was written, of a third novel, to which he gives the title "Herbert Winwood." Certainly it is hard to reconcile the characters and events in "Uses of Prosody" and the letter with the plot of "Lesbia Brandon," as we have it, while chapters 16 and 19 in the synopsis are in fact entitled "Uses of prosody" and "Correspondance" respectively. As for the date of this attempt, none of the paper used is watermarked, nor is there any evidence from letters, but if an analogy may be drawn with "A Year's Letters," where the date of the action is a year earlier than the date of composition, then "Herbert Winwood" was written in 1863. The fourth and most ambitious of Swinburne's novels, or attempts at a novel, is the unfinished work called "Lesbia Brandon" by T. J. Wise in his A Swinburne Library, 1925, but never given a title by the author. That Swinburne considered it a major work, and that for a long time he hoped to complete it, is proved by his statement in a letter to Paul Hamilton Hayne dated January 15, 1878 (Letters, 4:32-33), that is to say, some fourteen years after he had begun the novel:

Professional & Technical
22 December
West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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