Shelley's influence on the Chartist poets, with particular emphasis on Ernest Charles Jones and Thomas Cooper
This study examines the Chartists' interest in Shelley's poetry and accounts for it, but it takes the second point first:. Three factors are discerned to be of prime importance in giving rise to Shelley's reputation amongst radical Chartists. First, the Chartists' estimation of Shelley's political philosophy as more intrinsically radical than the mainstream of British radicalism, as exemplified by Godwin. Second, Shelley's stands on the questions of religion, inheritance and political reform proved to be appealing to the Chartists. Third, and most important of all, to the Chartists Shelley was a political poet - and poetry they saw as a principal means of moving the people. The political arguments that permeated Shelley's poetry and the mingling he managed between poetry and politics corresponded to the Chartists' political thought and their advocacy of poetry as the most apposite literary medium to serve and enhance political change. Accordingly, Shelley was awarded a unique position in the Owenites' and thartists' publications. He was chiefly acknowledged as a political poet whose compositions foster the peoples' radical inclinations and lend force to their efforts to initiate political reform. The Chartist poet and leader, Ernest Charles Jones, read, published and quoted Shelley on many occasions. His published and unpublished works testify that Shelley made a strong impact on his political arguments and exerted direct influence on much of his poetry. The other thartist poet whom Shelley seems to have influenced is Thomas Cooper. As a great admirer of Shelley, Cooper also read Shelley's works, published extracts from them in his journals and delivered many lectures on Shelley's poetry and thought. The affinities between Cooper's and Shelley's political arguments suggest that Shelley might well have exercised a considerable influence on Cooper's political reasoning. Moreover, the comparison between Cooper's epic poem, The Purgatory of Suicides and Shelley's Queen Mab leaves little room for doubt that Shelley has influenced Cooper in this particular poem. The main contribution to Shelley studies lies in the evidence provided of Shelley's popularity amongst radical Chartists and the charting of his political and literary influence on two Chartist poets: Ernest Charles Jones and Thomas Cooper. This study should serve as an important part of a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of Shelley's influence on the Chrtist Movement as a whole.