[Dominic Carlone has kindly shared Snatched Away in Beauty's Bloom, his elegantly designed Hallam site at the University of Windsor (from which this document comes), with readers of the Victorian Web.]
Hallam's place in the history of British literature is difficult to define. During his short career a number of watershed events took place which would help shape the incipient Victorian era: the first Reform Bill in 1830; the publication of Thomas Carlyle's Characteristics in 1831; and of course the publication of Alfred Tennyson's Poems Chiefly Lyrical in 1830. These events, combined with his close friendship with Tennyson and the Cambridge Apostles, would seem to warrant the classification of early Victorian.
However, the transition to what we call the Victorian era was by no means complete. Hallam began writing in a decade that saw the premature deaths of three Romantic giants: Keats in 1821, Shelley in 1822 and Byron in 1824. Coleridge outlived him by a year, passing away in 1834, and Wordsworth, the founder of English Romanticism survived until 1850. Thus, strictly speaking, Hallam could also be classified as a late Romantic.
A close examination of Hallam's work reveals that, in addition to the transition which British literature was undergoing, he was himself experiencing a personal artistic transition before his premature death at age 22. Viewed from any angle, Hallam's poetry is Romantic, both thematically and stylistically. However, in his essay "On Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry" Hallam puts forth a theory of poetry focused exclusively on the "desire of beauty."This theory looks backward in some ways to Keats, but more importantly, as Houghton and Stange argue, it "points forward to the neo-Romantic verse of the Aesthetic Movement . . . Hallam was the first, or nearly the first, in England to use the term 'aesthetic' for the perception of the beautiful in art"(Houghton and Stange, 848n. 1). Thus, in Hallam's criticism we see the germ of what would become the last great literary movement of the Victorian era, half a century later.
Hallam's theory, prophetic as it was, never had the chance to fully take shape in his poetry, and Snatched Away in Beauty's Bloom is concerned with the poems that Hallam did complete. We can only sadly speculate what innovations Hallam would have made. The poems he left are, for better or for worse, deeply entrenched in the styles and philosophies of British Romanticism.
Last modified 7 April 2000.