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John Clare and Community
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    Cook, Daniel 2013. Thomas Chatterton and Neglected Genius, 1760–1830. p. 160.

    Fulford, Tim 2015. Romantic Poetry and Literary Coteries. p. 165.

    Fulford, Tim 2015. Romantic Poetry and Literary Coteries. p. 189.

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Book description

John Clare (1793–1864) is one of the most sensitive poetic observers of the natural world. Born into a rural labouring family, he felt connected to two communities: his native village and the Romantic and earlier poets who inspired him. The first part of this study of Clare and community shows how Clare absorbed and responded to his reading of a selection of poets including Chatterton, Bloomfield, Gray and Keats, revealing just how serious the process of self-education was to his development. The second part shows how he combined this reading with the oral folk-culture he was steeped in, to create an unrivalled poetic record of a rural culture during the period of enclosure, and the painful transition to the modern world. In his lifelong engagement with rural and literary life, Clare understood the limitations as well as the strengths in communities, the pleasures as well as the horrors of isolation.


'Adds yet another joyous dimension to this endlessly fascinating character.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

'Goodridge's long-awaited study represents another milestone in the critical understanding and reception of Clare's poetry … Simply put, there is no better reader of Clare alive today. Not only does Goodridge know the poetry as intimately as the editors of the monumental Oxford English Texts edition, but he also has the richest and most astute sense of the broader literary and socio-cultural milieu in which Clare wrote and to which Clare responded.'

Source: European Romantic Review

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Works consulted

For a year-by-year listing of modern Clare studies and a guide to other Clare bibliographies, please refer to my Checklist of Critical Publications on John Clare, 1970–2011, which may be downloaded from the John Clare web page,

Archives and manuscripts

  • Berg Collection, New York Public Library.

  • British Library, Add. MS 28266 and Eg. 2245–50.

  • Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections, Seymour Adelman Letters and Documents Collection, box 5.

  • Northamptonshire Archives, John Clare Society Archive, ephemera files.

  • Northamptonshire Central Library, NMS 15.

  • Peterborough Museum, PMS A17, A18, A54, A59.

  • Pierpont Morgan, MA 1320.

  • Private collection (Bloomfield–Clare, 3 May 1822).

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Media and online sources

Campion, Jane (dir.), Bright Star (Century City, Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2009), DVD.
Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, aired Sunday 15 April 2001, available online at the BBC website.
Frith, Roger, ‘A Song in the Night’, performed by Freddie Jones at the Lyric theatre, Hammersmith, 3–15 July 1989 (live performance; no record or publication traced).
Hughes, Ted, reading Clare’s ‘The Nightingales Nest’, in Unveiling of a Memorial to John Clare in Poet’s Corner, Tuesday 13 June 1989 (Helpston: The John Clare Society, 1989), audio cassette tape.
Wood, Chris, The Lark Descending (Faversham, Kent: R.U.F Records, 2005), CD. (Clare country) (Chatterton country) (Clare cottage)