When King Arthur met the Venus: Romantic Antiquarianism and the Illustration of Anne Bannerman’s “The Prophecy of Merlin”

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Abstract

The first edition of Bannerman’s Tales of Superstition and Chivalry (1802) contained an erotic engraving of a naked Venus figure, which was declared ‘offensive to decency’ by Scottish audiences in the poet’s native Edinburgh. Garner’s account investigates the controversy surrounding the engraving and the puzzling disparity between it and the ballad it illustrated: the Arthurian-themed ‘Prophecy of Merlin’. Using evidence from Bannerman’s correspondence with noted Scottish male publishers and antiquarians, this essay argues that decision to include the dangerous engraving was symptomatic of current anxieties surrounding a female-authored text which threatened to encroach on antiquarian and Arthurian enquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-71
Number of pages18
JournalRomantic Textualities
Volume21
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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