The edition brings together the known writings in poetry and prose of Edward Rushton (1756--1814). Blinded by trachoma after an outbreak on the slaving ship in which he was a young officer, Rushton returned to Liverpool to scratch a living as a publican, newspaper editor, and finally bookseller and publisher. In his day Rushton was a well-known Liverpool poet and reformer, with an impressively wide range of causes (the Liverpool Blind School, the Liverpool Marine Society, and many radical political groups). Many of his songs, particularly the marine ballads, were very familiar in Britain and America. In the later Victorian period, as a particular version of romanticism began to dominate literary sensibilities, Rushton’s overt politics fell from favour and he became rather obscure, at least by comparison with his like-minded (but much better off) friend William Roscoe. As the history of slavery abolition and other radical causes has come to be re-examined, the bicentenary of Rushton’s death, falling in November 2014, has suggested an opportunity to take a new look at his remarkable career and impressive body of work. There has never been a critical edition of Rushton’s poems. His own 1806 edition omits much (including what is his best-known work in modern times, the anti-slavery West-Indian Eclogues of 1787), and the posthumous 1824 edition omits much from the 1806 collection while drawing in other work. The edition works from the earliest datable sources, in newspapers, chapbooks, periodicals, and broadsides, providing a clean text with significant revisions and variants noted in the commentary, glosses on unfamiliar words, with brief contexts and explanations informed by the latest scholarship.
Reviews'A very welcome book and one which does justice to Edward Rushton’s remarkable and unique literary achievement.'
Important and long-due, this book will have a significant impact in restoring critical attention to a sadly neglected Romantic-era poetic voice.
'The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton (1756–1814), edited by Paul Baines and Franca Dellarosa’s Talking Revolution: Edward Rushton’s Rebellious Poetics 1782–1814 (a first-rate critical biography) taken together, are two volumes that enable Rushton’s work to join a large and sometimes quite riveting body of material at the intersection of working-class poetry and the literary history of abolitionism.'
Jenny Davidson, SEL Review
'Paul Baines’s The Collected Writings of Edward Rushton, is a triumph... space is given to Rushton’s poetry and prose in a manner that allows them to speak for themselves. Baines does not clutter the text with lengthy notes concerning textual variants, history, or glosses, instead confining these to a detailed but concise ‘commentary’ at the end of the volume.'
Matthew Ward & Paul Whickman, Year's Work in English Studies
'[This is] the first modern volume of [Rushton's] collected works (painstakingly edited by Paul Baines)... As Baines pointed out at the 2014 conference marking both the bicentenary of Rushton’s death and the publication of these books, the attempt to collect, collate and rationalise the fugitive poetry of a figure whose work was often ephemeral, unattributed or reproduced without permission on either side of the Atlantic was a formidable one. The scale of this undertaking is evidenced by the 102 pages of commentary that accompany the works themselves.'
Ryan Hanley, The BARS Review, No. 48
'[Baines] brings more attention to this fascinating writer.'
Jeffrey N. Cox, Studies in English Literature