British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe

Partners and collaborators

The Wordsworth Trust, The Poetry Society


Funded through an AHRC Leadership Fellowship awarded to Dr David Higgins, this project is the first major investigation of environmental catastrophe in Romantic-period writing.

As distinct from terms like ‘disaster’, catastrophe – from the Greek meaning an overturning, a sudden turn, a conclusion – indicates a major shift in the state of things that may well be destructive, but is not necessarily so. The environmental catastrophes addressed by this project include the heat death of the universe in Lord Byron’s ‘Darkness’, the destruction of humanity ‘by deluge’ in Book Five of William Wordsworth’s The Prelude, the geological separation of the British Isles from mainland Europe in Charlotte Smith’s ‘Beachy Head’, and the joyous apocalypse at the end of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound.

Publications and outputs

Please see:

Project website