Thomas Chatterton: four ways of literary terra-forming

Thu 19 May 2022, 18:00 - 19:15

Wheelchair accessible venue
Illustration of Thomas Chatterton
University of Bristol Arts Complex, B.H05 Lecture Theatre, University of Bristol, 7 Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1TB

Event ended

The British Academy Lectures

Delivered by the most outstanding academics in the UK and beyond, the British Academy’s flagship lecture programme showcases the very best scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

This is the 2022 Thomas Chatterton Lecture originally planned to be delivered in 2020, the 250th Anniversary of the poet's death.

This lecture considers how Thomas Chatterton created literary worlds. Professor Nick Groom’s aim is to reveal the connections between Chatterton's very different poetic visions of mediaeval Redcliffe, African mythology, contemporary 18th-century politics, and environmentalism. Although these areas of Chatterton’s writing are usually treated separately by critics, they in fact share many common features, and between them characterise Chatterton’s distinctive – if extraordinarily precocious – poetic voices. These shared characteristics have, moreover, been brought into sharp relief by some of the pressing issues of our own time, from the traumas of the pandemic to the debates on the commemoration (and misrepresentation) of historical figures such as Edward Colston and indeed Chatterton himself. In the poetry of Thomas Chatterton, we can, Groom argues, find not only an unexpected influence on some of our major cultural touchstones, but significance and relevance for us today through the consolation of literature.

Professor Nick Groom, Professor of Literature in English at the University of Macau
Professor Nick Groom, Professor of Literature in English at the University of Macau (image by Chris Chapman)

Speaker: Professor Nick Groom, Professor of Literature in English at the University of Macau

Chair: Professor Ralph Pite, Professor of English at the University of Bristol

Nick Groom is currently Professor of Literature in English at the University of Macau, having previously held positions at the Universities of Bristol, Chicago, Stanford, and Exeter – at the last of which he holds an Honorary Professorship. He has published research in a number of fields, from 18th-century ballads to literary forgery, and from the canonisation of Shakespeare to the history of vampires, as well as several articles and essays on the poet Thomas Chatterton. He is primarily known for his work on cultural environmentalism and on the Gothic: his environmental writing includes the book The Seasons: A Celebration of the English Year (Atlantic, 2013), runner-up for the BBC Countryfile Book of the Year, and essays such as the acclaimed ‘“Let’s discuss over country supper soon”: Rural Realities and Rustic Representations’. His extensive work on the Gothic has helped to redefine the field through books, essays, and articles including The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012); editions of The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, The Italian, and Frankenstein (all Oxford University Press, 2014-19); and The Vampire: A New History (Yale University Press, 2020). He has also written an acclaimed book on the history of The Union Jack (Atlantic, second edition 2017), which gained him a role as advisor to the UK Parliamentary Flags and Heraldry Committee. He is currently finishing a radical reassessment of JRR Tolkien and his significance for Atlantic Books, and a new edition of early vampire tales for Oxford University Press.

Doors will open for registration at 17:30. There will be a reception held after the lecture and all registered attendees are welcome to join. The evening will conclude at approximately 20:00.

In partnership with

Sign up to our email newsletters