Who Were the Major English Romantic Poets?


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The Romantic poetry movement in England was propelled by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. They were joined by Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, William Blake and John Keats, among others.

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Romanticism was characterized by a preoccupation with naturalism and a celebration of individualism, passion and spirituality. Some explored the supernatural and mystical while others embraced revolution and freedom. While Romanticism has no exact start date, most scholars understand it as a reaction against the Enlightenment as well as the neoclassicism and nationalism that dominated the discourse at the time. Others describe Wordsworth's poetry collection "Lyrical Ballads" as Romanticism's true start. Romanticism has also been linked to a resurgence of interest in folklore, thought to be sparked by the brothers Grimm and their retelling of fairy tales.

Romanticism was the primary intellectual movement of the 1700s, influencing every artistic discipline and infiltrating politics. Romanticism rejected the ideals of the Enlightenment, in particular the idea that art and knowledge were only accessible to an elite few. Many Romantics sought to make art available and understandable by all, though their success is debatable. Eventually, Romanticism fell out of favor but was never truly gone, its ideals instead absorbed into artistic movements that followed it and reappearing in French symbolism and surrealism.

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