The Cambrian Muse: Welsh Identity and Hanoverian Loyalty in the Poems of Jane Brereton (1685-1740)

Sarah Prescott

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12 Citations (SciVal)


In a rather belated response to J. G. A. Pocock's call for an 'archipelagic' approach to British history (1975), the last ten years has produced a wealth of scholarship—initially historical but increasingly literary—on the question of British identity. The eighteenth century is especially pertinent in this respect since, as Linda Colley has influentially observed, the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 marked the invention of Great Britain as 'a would-be nation.' The years following Colley's 1992 study have witnessed a surge of critical interest in eighteenth-century conceptions of national identity. However, as might be expected given the nature of the 1707 Union, attention paid to eighteenth-century negotiations of Britishness has mainly concerned the often turbulent relationship between England and Scotland. In contrast, the relatively pacific role played by Wales and English-language Welsh writers, especially from the earlier years of the century, has been neglected by literary scholars. By considering the place of Anglo-Welsh literary negotiations of Britain in the early eighteenth century, this article aims to begin to redress this imbalance. Although Wales and England had been formally united by the Tudor legislation of 1536-1543, and thus can be said to have a long and distinct history of political and religious assimilation prior to 1707, literary representations of Wales and Welsh identity played a vital role in the creative re-imagining of Britain that took place following the 1707 Act of Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-603
Number of pages17
JournalEighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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