The poetry of James Beattie : a critical edition
James Beattie (1735-1803) strongly influenced later poets, particularly Wordsworth and the Romantics, but there has previously been no complete or critical edition of his poetry. A search has been made in manuscripts, periodicals, and poem collections for all poems written by Beattie, and the texts which had his authority have been identified and collated. A full bibliographic list of authorized publications and texts has been compiled, and also of unauthorized editions in Beattie's lifetime. The corpus of poetry has been substantially enlarged, mow comprising The Minstrel and eighty-four other poems. Twenty-nine poems appear here for the first time as Beattie's compositions; most are from previously unpublished manuscripts, but some are poems published anonymously in Beattie's lifetime, and now shown to be his. Thirteen other previously uncollected poems are included, and a small number of uncertain authorship. The dates of composition of nearly all the poems have been established, and they are, for the first time, arranged in chronological order of composition. Beattie usually revised each poem substantially before publication or republication. Many poems therefore exist in several different versions, and are represented as parallel texts. Some revisions reflected a changed intention concerning the general meaning of the poem, but most were 'corrections', aimed at poetic refinement, and later at simplicity of diction. Information is provided on the historical, biographical and social background of the poems, and on their composition, the most important source being over two thousand manuscript letters, mostly previously unpublished. The relevant parts of these are transcribed. They also clarify Beattie's dealings with the book trade. A number of his poems were written as songs; the music has been identified and is reproduced. The Minstrel was Beattie's most influential poem, and remains the outstanding one in the expanded and rearranged corpus: new information is given about its origins, composition and publication.