SOLVEIG C. ROBINSON 1854, IN THE PAGES OF HER PENNY WEEKLY ELIZA COOK'S JOURNAL, POET Eliza Cook (1818-1889) proclaimed her optimism about the future of the working classes: The levelling of this day is all of the levelling-up character. . . . The number of selfrisen men, sprung from the ranks, is increasing, and must increase. They are growing up to the highest standards. And the mass too is advancing with education and knowledge, and they too must gradually become leveled up. No man can deplore this process of development; for in proportion to the number of true men,--brave, self-helping, intelligent men,--will be the true life, prosperity, and strength of empire.1 Cook's confidence in the "levelling up" of society infused her writing and derived from a strong sense of her own progress. The youngest child of a tinman and brazier, Cook had grown up in London and in the Sussex countryside, and her writing grew out of her personal experiences of both urban and rural laboring life. Her decidedly humble origins place her in the small group of working-class women poets who were the Victorian successors to the eighteenth-century "Muses of Resistance" studied by Donna Landry, Moira Ferguson,
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jun 1, 2001
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