How to Read a Literary Visualisation: Network Effects in the Lake School of Romantic Poetry

Laura Mandell


Robert Southey, a member of “the Lake School” of poetry—really, the first “avant garde” in the history of English literature—was as prolific a letter writer as he was of poetry and prose during the Romantic era in England, roughly 1780-1830: “to write to a dear friend,” Southey says, “is to me like escaping from prison.” A massive digital scholarly edition is underway, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. It is divided into eight Parts: I:1791-1797, II:1798-1803, III:1804-09, IV:1810-15, V:1816-21, VI:1822-27, VII:1828-33, VIII:1833-39. Currently Parts I and II have been completely edited and made available to the public. These letters capture a set of intellectual, amicable, and financial relationships established while Southey lived in and traveled away from his home base of Bristol in “the West Country,” before he actually moved to the Lake District. Because each person and place name in the letters was encoded using TEI P5, we have been able to create a data set that indicates who is mentioned in letters to whom. That data set was fed into a Directed and Undirected Graph to be visualized, which is available to see and manipulate online here (

Robert Southey, un membre ""the Lake School""—considérés comme la première "avant-garde" de l'histoire de la littérature anglaise—était un écrivain aussi prolifique en lettres qu'en poésie et en prose durant la période romantique en Angleterre, soit entre 1780 et 1830 : "écrire à un ami cher", disait Southey, "est pour moi comme s'échapper de prison." Une édition érudite numérique massive, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, est en cours d'élaboration. Elle est divisée en huit parties : I :1791-1797, II :1798-1803, III :1804-09, IV :1810-15, V :1816-21, VI :1822-27, VII :1828-33, VIII :1833-39. Actuellement les parties I et II ont été entièrement révisées et rendues publiques. Ces lettres reproduisent un ensemble de relations intellectuelles, amicales et financières que Southey a établies alors qu'il habitait à Bristol dans "le West Country," et au cours de ses voyages, avant qu'il s'installe dans le Lake District. Étant donné que chaque personne et nom de lieu dans les lettres est encodé en utilisant TEI P5, nous avons été en mesure de créer un ensemble de données indiquant qui est mentionné dans les lettres adressées à quelles personnes. Cet ensemble de données a été alimenté dans un graphe orienté et non orienté pour être visualisé, que l'on peut voir et manipuler en ligne (


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