The history of poetry anthologies and their influence on British society and culture over the last four centuries.
The fascinating history of poetry anthologies and their influence on British society and culture over the last four centuries.
For hundreds of years, anthologies have shaped the way we encounter literature. Eighteenth-century children and young women were introduced to the 'safe' bits of Shakespeare or Milton through censored collections; Victorian working-class men and women enrolled at adult learning institutions to be taught from The Golden Treasury; First World War soldiers nursed copies of The Oxford Book of English Verse in the trenches; pop-loving teenagers growing up in the 1960s got their first taste of the counterculture from the bestselling The Mersey Sound. But anthologies aren't just part of literary history. Over the centuries, they have influenced the course of British social change, redrawing the map of 'high' and 'low' culture, generating conversations around politics, morality, class, gender and belief.
The Treasuries, by the literary scholar and journalist Clare Bucknell, reveals the extraordinary amount we can learn about our history from the anthologies that brought readers together and changed the way they thought.