The Making of Percy's Reliques

Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) is one of the founding texts of English literature, and epoch-making collection of historical and lyrical ballads that defined the canon of popular poetry. It dramatically influenced Romanticism and the writing of Wordsworth and Coleridge, Walter Scott, and even Lewis Carroll. This is the first monograph devoted to Percy's seminal work. In The Making of Percys Reliques, Nick Groom vividly reconstructs pioneering antiquarianism and its processes of collecting, transcribing, and collating. With meticulous scholarship, he unravels Percy's working methods, examining his correspondence, library, and papers - as well as his friendships with scholars like Samuel Johnson. This microbibliographical analysis takes literary history and critical theory in significant new directions. As Groom shows, the creation about historical sources and the origins of Englishness, and the practices of eighteenth-century editing were intertwined with themes as diverse as gardening, nightingales, forgery, and cannibalism.