Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Like other poets who came to prominence in the nineteenth century but continued to publish well into the twentieth, Alice Meynell’s work has come gradually to be occluded by the work of her younger contemporaries, among them T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. The available scholarship records this process of occlusion in the form of an almost complete absence of serious discourse on Meynell’s work following her death in 1922 until the beginnings of a modest revival of interest in her writing beginning in the 1980s. This study aims to address that gap by giving a more complete account of Meynell’s stylistic development and technical procedures in the field of poetry than has heretofore been available. Examining select specimens of Meynell’s verse in the light of prosodic theories current at the time both she and her Modernist contemporaries were writing further allows us to see, in place of the familiar narrative of Modernism’s revolutionary break with its immediate literary past, continuities between nineteenth- and twentieth-century understandings of what meter is and how it works. Rather than attempting to catalogue the work of writers producing metrical poetry in the early twentieth century, this project looks to the work of one poet and relies on intensive analysis of only a few of her poems to trace out a literary genealogy between figures who all but never meet in critical discourse. This approach demonstrates how Meynell’s poetry, especially in its engagement with prosodic convention, provides a bridge which can link the work, on the one hand, of Victorians like Coventry Patmore and Mary Elizabeth Coleridge to, on the other hand, major architects of Modernism like Pound and Eliot, generating, ultimately, a new and alternative perspective for interpreting poetry as a cultural practice in one of its most contested historical phases.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michie, Elsie