Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Beddoes, and “The Golden Age” of the 1790s

Michelle Faubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


An anonymous poetic parody entitled “The Golden Age, A Poetical Epistle from Erasmus D——n, M.D. to Thomas Beddoes, M.D.” appeared in England in 1794 and has often been attributed to Erasmus Darwin since then. This article explores how the parody presents half-truths and surprising facts about 1790s radicalism(s) and the sexual revolution that grew out of early botanical studies to convince generations of readers that the slanderous sentiments leveled at Darwin and Beddoes were Darwin's own. The article demonstrates further that this apparently silly mockery makes such clever use of the traditional features of poetic parody that it may be considered to be a model of the literary form. In these ways, the poet of “The Golden Age” engages in an ideological battle to silence the radical scientist-poets by identifying them with unnaturalness, or perversion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-476
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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