ABSTRACT

Despite the fact that the recuperation of the ancient Welsh past at the hands of eighteenth-century “Celticists” was primarily a masculine endeavour, women poets of the time nevertheless engaged with this phenomenon on a number of intriguing levels. This essay explores a range of anglophone Welsh women poets, from the seventeenth-century Cardigan-based Katherine Philips to the Romantic writer Mary Robinson, in order to demonstrate women’s engagement with antiquarian and national concerns in their own poetic productions. Through an analysis of their Wales-related poetry, which takes in a number of influences—from local knowledge of the Welsh landscape, of ancient British bardic verse, classical precedent and Welsh music, as well as the eighteenth-century “vogue” for imitating (or forging) the poetry of ancient cultures—the essay argues that it is possible to trace an identifiably female response to the period’s literary interest in the ancient Celtic world.