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Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period$
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Sarah Houghton-Walker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719472

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719472.001.0001

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Background, Histories, and Myths

Background, Histories, and Myths

The Situation of the Gypsies in the Romantic Period

(p.14) 1 Background, Histories, and Myths
Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period

Sarah Houghton-Walker

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws on a wide range of resources, from Parliamentary Acts (including Enclosure and Witchcraft Acts) to Old Bailey transcripts of the trial of Mary Squires and Elizabeth Canning. Surveying the cultural, social and political burdens placed upon the way of life which previously had sustained the gypsies, it establishes a context through which to read the works explored in the rest of the book. The various pressures on gypsy life considered here include (amongst others) industrialization, the decline in popular faith in alternative beliefs, and the way in which the gypsies' integral and necessary roles within the rural community are increasingly rendered obsolete. The chapter looks at texts by Mary Russell Mitford, Samuel Rogers, and John Clare, which exhibit these pressures in action, rather than attempting a straightforward history of the gypsies.

Keywords:   John Clare, Samuel Rogers, Mary Russell Mitford, industrialization, Mary Squires, Elizabeth Canning, alternative beliefs, Enclosure, witchcraft

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