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Book of the Month - May 2015

Our May ‘Book of the Month’ is ‘Stirring Age: Scott, Byron and the Historical Romance’ by Robert Duncan McColl.


Comparisons of Scott and Byron, so natural to 19th century readers, are scarce nowadays. Using a variety of critical and philosophical vocabularies, this study provides a timely and original study of two giants of 19th century European literature engaged in an experimental, mutually-informing act of genre-splicing, seeking to return history and romance to what both perceived was their native complementarity.

The book shows how both writers utilise historical examples to suggest the continuing relevance of romance models, and how they confront threats to that relevance, whether they derive from the linear conception of history or the ‘romantic’ misapprehension of it. The argument proceeds by examining those threats, and then weighing the revival of romance via, rather than contra, the historical.


To find out more, please click here to read a sample extract and contents page. 

We are offering all of our readers a generous 60% discount on this best-selling title. To redeem your discount, please enter the promotional code BOMMAY15 during checkout. Please note that this is a time-limited offer that will expire on 31st May 2015.

Please see below for highlights of the praise this book has been receiving:


“This is a timely book. ‘Wordsworth and Coleridge’, ‘Keats and Shelley’ trip off the tongue easily, but the little explored relationship between Scott and Byron was as deep and more productive. McColl concentrates rightly on their holding together the different modalities of history and fiction as fundamental to their art and their view of life. It is fundamental, too, to properly understanding what we have come to call ‘Romanticism’, which is too often seen only as fostering the ideology of Imagination. This book needs to be read.”

—Bernard Beatty, Senior Fellow, School of English, University of Liverpool; Associate Fellow, St Andrews’ School of Divinity; Former Editor of The Byron Journal


“Robert McColl shows how Scott is neither evading significance, as the poststructuralists would have it, nor escaping from history, as the Romance school believes. Judicious use of Northrop Frye, Jerome Christensen, Ian Duncan, Susan Oliver, and other critics, makes McColl’s study a timely intervention concerning the relationship between Walter Scott and Lord Byron. His account of Scott and Byron’s use of anecdote is particularly suggestive, for he notes how they used narrative detail (unlike “talkers” such as Robert Southey) to gain insight into “this stirring age” (both their own and the “age” in which they set their fictions).”

—Professor Jonathan Gross, DePaul University; Joint President, International Association of Byron Societies


“Byron and Scott admired, borrowed and echoed each other’s work, yet their literary relationship is a little worked-on area. Stirring Age goes a long and wonderful way to fill the gap. Among much that Scott and Byron had in common was their juxtaposition of history and romance, which is the focus of Rob McColl’s excellent book. ‘Crucial to the historical romance which Scott initiates and Byron develops is the importance of the recent past, itself reflected in both writers’ admiration for Augustan writers and their conscious development of a continuing literary tradition.’ Lucidly written, rich with insight and knowledge, Stirring Age will appeal to scholars and general readers alike.”

—Shobhana Bhattacharji, Visiting Professor, ICCR Chair, Ryukoku University, Japan; editor of The Heart of Mid-Lothian (Penguin, 2009)


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