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The Golden Treasury: 150 Years On

Marvin Spevack (notes)


The success of the Golden Treasury was immediate and enduring. Buoyed by adroit advertising and burgeoning national literacy, its enthusiastic reception by critics and public led to four editions within the lifetime of its originator, Francis Turner Palgrave, and eventually to a prominent place in schools, households, and indeed the cultural history of England. It came about through the impressive knowledge, hard work, and flexibility of the anthologist, his novel way of selecting and arranging the poems, his evaluative discussions with friends, his meticulous involvement in the details of its publication, and, most of all perhaps, his utter devotion to the intrinsic value of poetry. Not merely the contents but the conception itself became a subject of intellectual discourse. With the passage of time the popularity of the Golden Treasury led to imitations and expansions which could not replicate the original conception and ultimately had only the title in common.

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