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Courting the Public
Leo Shipp
31 August 2022

The office of the poet laureate of Britain was a highly prominent, relevant and respectable institution throughout the long eighteenth century. First instituted for John Dryden in 1668, the laureateship developed from an honorific into a functionary office with a settled position in court (c.1689–1715), and was bestowed upon Robert Southey in 1813, whose tenure eventually transformed the office. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this book examines the office’s institutional changes and public reception, the mechanics of each laureate’s appointment, and the works produced by the laureates before and after their appointments. It argues that the laureateship played a key part in some of the most vital trends in eighteenth-...