Kitson, Peter J.
KITSON, Peter J.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pickering & Chatto, 21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH, England.
CAREER: Writer. University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, professor.
(Editor) Romantic Criticism, 1800-1825 ("Key Documents in Literary Criticism"), Batsford (Glasgow, Scotland), 1990.
(Editor with Thomas N. Corns) Coleridge and the Armoury of the Human Mind: Essays on His Prose Writings, Frank Cass (London, England), 1991.
(Editor with Tim Fulford) Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire, 1780-1830, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1998.
(Editor with others) The Year's Work In English Studies, Volume 76, Blackwell Publishers (Oxford, England), 1998.
(Editor with Debbie Lee) Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period, Volume 1: Black Writers, Volume 2: The Abolition Debate, Volume 3: The Emancipation Debate, Volume 4: Verse, Volume 5: Drama, Volume 6: Fiction, Volume 7: Medicine and Slavery, Volume 8: Theories of Race, and Index. Pickering & Chatto (London, England), 1999.
(Editor with Tim Fulford) Travels, Explorations, and Empires, 1770-1835: Travel Writings on North America, the Far East, the North and South Poles, and the Middle East, four volumes, Pickering & Chatto (London, England), 2001.
(Editor) Nineteenth-Century Travels, Explorations, and Empires: Writings from the Era of Imperial Consolidation, 1835-1910, Pickering & Chatto (London, England), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: With Tim Fulford, four more volumes in "Travels, Explorations, and Empires."
SIDELIGHTS: Peter J. Kitson is known for his compilations devoted to various aspects of life in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England. Coleridge and the Armoury of the Human Mind: Essays on His Prose Writings, which Kitson edited with Thomas N. Corns, features essays from contributors such as John Beer, William Ruddick, and Kathleen Wheeler. Writing in the Review of English Studies, W. J. B. Owen accorded particular praise to Beer's analysis of Coleridge as a critic, declaring that "Beer offers a carefully documented historical survey of Coleridge's progress from a political commentator, through his growing interest in the natural environment and his increasing attention to the psychology of literary creation." Owen also enjoyed Ruddick's essay, which considers Charles Lamb's response to Robert Southey's criticism of Coleridge's Elia. Owen deemed Ruddick's piece "subtle and revealing." In his appraisal, Owen concluded, "Readers of [Coleridge and the Armoury of the Human Mind] will not need to change greatly their overall view of Coleridge, but they will find some odd, and some familiar, corners of his mind illuminated."
After publishing the Coleridge volume, Kitson teamed with Tim Fulford in editing Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire, 1780-1830, which Choice reviewer D. Garrison ranked among studies "on the relationship between literature and cultural complexity." The book presents fifteen essays on subjects ranging from liberationist aspects of William Jones's Hymns to Hindu Deities to nationalistic tendencies in Romantic-era poetry. Among the notable essayists featured in the volume are Moira Ferguson, who examines Mary Butt Sherwood's Dazee, the Recaptured Negro, and Timothy Morton, who analyzes Robert Southey's sonnets on slavery. Brian Young declared in a Review of English Studies appraisal that "the contributors to [Romantic Imperialism]...are very determinedly engaged in placing Romanticism in a newly theorized terrain," and "are keen to establish a variety of post-colonial orders in which liberation and theory are somehow inextricably enmeshed." Terence Hoagwood, writing in the Modern Language Review, deemed Romanticism and Colonialism "an admirably eclectic collection of essays," and he affirmed it "makes . . . an informative and useful contribution to the field."
Kitson followed Romanticism and Colonialism with Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period, an eight-volume study that he edited with Debbie Lee. In this work, Kitson and Lee present writings ranging from conventional documents to literary creations in illuminating the British Empire's handling of slavery from approximately 1780 to the mid-1800s. Peter Fraser, writing in a review for the Times Higher Education Supplement, described Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation as "impressively produced," and he stated that the entire series of eight volumes "deserves to be widely consulted." Howard Temperley, meanwhile, wrote in the Times Literary Supplement of "the editors' intentions to remove barriers and encourage debate."
Kitson's subsequent writings include Travels, Explorations, and Empires, 1770-1835: Travel Writings on North America, the Far East, the North and South Poles, and the Middle East, a consideration of British travel during the Romantic Era. Fergus Fleming, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, appraised the study as "an ambitious anthology" acknowledging the amassing of such material as "a daunting task." Fleming added, "Travels does not pretend to be anything that it is not, and it delivers what it promises. Its extracts evoke the rawness of discovery in an age when vast portions of the atlas were blank and when large segments of the world's population lived in ignorance of each other."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, April, 1999, D. Garrison, review of Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire, 1780-1830, p. 1460.
Modern Language Review, January, 2001, Terence Hoagwood, review of Romanticism and Colonialism, pp. 167-171.
Notes and Queries, September 1997, E. D. Mackerness, "Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley," pp. 416-418.
Review of English Studies, November, 1993, W. J. B. Owen, review of Coleridge and the Armoury of the Human Mind: Essays on His Prose Writings; November, 2001, Brian Young, review of Romanticism and Colonialism, pp. 551-556.
Times Higher Education Supplement, August 25, 2000, Peter Fraser, "Slave's Complaint Given Voice," p. 26.
Times Literary Supplement, October 22, 1999, Howard Temperley, "Slavery in Lakeland," p. 27; September 21, 2001, Fergus Fleming, "Armchair Adventures," pp. 3-4.*