Om Lake Poets and Professional Identity
The idea that the inspired poet stands apart from the marketplace is considered central to British Romanticism. However, Romantic authors were deeply concerned with how their occupation might be considered a kind of labour comparable to that of the traditional professions. In the process of defining their work as authors, Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge - the 'Lake school' - aligned themselves with emerging constructions of the 'professional gentleman' that challenged the vocational practices of late eighteenth- century British culture. They modelled their idea of authorship on the learned professions of medicine, church, and law, which allowed them to imagine a productive relationship to the marketplace and to adopt the ways eighteenth-century poets had related their poetry to other kinds of intellectual work. In this work, Goldberg explores the ideas of professional risk, evaluation and competition that the writers developed as a response to a variety of eighteenth-century depictions of the literary career.