Keeping the Ancient Way

BookKeeping the Ancient Way

Keeping the Ancient Way

Aspects of the Life and Work of Henry Vaughan (1621-1695)

English Association Monographs: English at the Interface, 7


April 15th, 2021

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Written by one of the editors of the new complete works of Henry Vaughan, Keeping the Ancient Way is the first book-length study of the poet by a single author for twenty years. It deals with a number of key topics that are central to the understanding and appreciation of this major seventeenth-century writer. These include his debt to the hermetic philosophy espoused by his twin brother (the alchemist, Thomas Vaughan); his royalist allegiance in the Civil War; his loyalty to the outlawed Church of England during the Interregnum; the unusual degree of intertextuality in his poetry (especially with the Scriptures and the devotional lyrics of George Herbert); and his literary treatment of the natural world (which has been variously interpreted from Christian, proto-Romantic, and ecological perspectives). Each of the chapters is self-contained and places its topic in relation to past and current critical debates, but the book is organized so that the biographical, intellectual, and political focus of Part One informs the discussion of poetic craftsmanship in Part Two. A wealth of historical information and close critical readings provide an accessible introduction to the poet and his period for students and general readers alike. The up-to-date scholarship will also be of interest to specialists in the literature and history of the Civil War and Interregnum.

Author Information

Robert Wilcher is an Honorary Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. Prior to his retirement, he was Reader in Early Modern Studies in the English department at the University of Birmingham. He is one of the editors of the three-volume 'Works of Henry Vaughan', published in 2018.