Florence S. Boos The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Department of English Professor Floarence S. Boos

Florence Boos - Selected Publications


Ph.D., Wisconsin - Professor: Victorian poets and cultural studies, Pre-Raphaelitism, working-class and women poets, issues of race and gender, British literature. - Vice-President, William Morris Society in the United States.

The Poetry of Dante Gabriel Rosetti: A Critical and Source Study  (Mouton, 1976)

The Design of William Morris' 'The Earthly Paradise'  (Mellen, 1991)

open pages of 2 booksThe Socialist Diary of William Morris, edited and annotated (Journeyman, 1982); also a fine press version, The Socialist Diary of William Morris, edited with introduction (Windhover Press, 1990)

The Juvenilia of William Morris, edited (Morris Society, 1982)

Socialism and the Literary Artistry of Wiliam Morris, edited with Carole Silver (U Missouri, 1990)

History and Community: Essays in Victorian Medievalism, edited (Garland, 1992)

The Earthly Paradise by William Morris. Vols. I and II, edited (Routledge, 2001) Review: http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v041/41.3kelvin.html

William Morris: 1896-1996. Guest editor for special issue, Victorian Poetry, 2001

"The Poetics of the Working Classes," Guest editor for special issue, Victorian Poetry, 2001 http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiwoa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v039/39.2boos.html

Annual Reviewer, "Pre-Raphaelitism: The Year's Work," Victorian Poetry, 1987-present.

Some recent articles (1997-present)

"Dystopian Violence: William Morris and Pacifism," ' to appear in the Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, 2004, with edited essay, "William Morris's 'My Country Right or Wrong.'"

"The Personal and Political as Lieux d'Anticipation in News from Nowhere," in Essays on William Morris's News from Nowhere, ed. Beatrice Laurent, Editions du Temps: Nantes, France, 2004, 93-107.

“‘Meaning’ in the Life-Writings of Poor Women in the Nineteenth Century: The Memoirs of Elizabeth Campbell and Christian Watt,” in Erfaring og Forstaelse (Experience and Understanding), ed. Oystein Hide, forthcoming National Department of Higher Education, Oslo, Norway, 2005.

"Class and Victorian Poetics," Blackwell's Literary Compass, Winter 2005.

"The Year's Work in Victorian Poetry 2003: Pre-Raphaelitism," Victorian Poetry 42.3(2004): 390-401.

“Morris and Scottish Modernism: The Prose Romances and Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s A Scots Quair.” The International Morris, ed. Thomas Tobin, SUNY Albany Press, 2004, 145-70.

"Class and the 'Spasmodics': W. E. Aytoun, Ebenezer Jones and Alexander Smith," special issue on the Spasmodics, ed. Jason Rudy, Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004), 553-83.

"The Year's Work in Victorian Poetry, 2002: Pre-Raphaelitism," Victorian Poetry 41.3 (2003): 120-30. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v041/41.3boos.html

“Queen of the Far-Famed Penny Post: Ellen Johnston, ‘The Factory Girl’ and Her Audience,” Women Writers 10:3, special issue on Scottish authors, ed. Dorothy McMillan, 2003, 503-26.

“Working-Class Poetry,” Companion to Victorian Literature, eds. Alison Chapman, Richard Cronin and Anthony Harrison. Oxford: Blackwell’s, 2002, 204-28.

“Rossetti’s Poetic Daughters: Turn-of-the-Century Women Poets and the Use of the Sonnet,” Outsiders Looking In; The Rossettis Then and Now, eds. David Clifford, Lauren Roussillon and Wei Wei Yeo, Anthem Press, 2003, 249-277.

“Nurs’d Up Amongst the Scenes I Have Describ’d’: Poetry of Working-Class Victorian Women.” The Uses of Victorian Culture, ed. Christine Krueger, SUNY Albany Press, 2002.

“Jason’s ‘Wise’ Women: Gender and Morris’s First Romantic Epic.” Morris 2000, edited David Latham. University of Toronto Press, forthcoming 2003.

“The Year’s Work in Victorian Poetry, 2001: Pre-Raphaelitism,” Victorian Poetry 40:3 (2002). http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v040/40.3boos.html

“Poetics of the Working-Classes,” intro. special issue, Victorian Poetry, 39.2 (2001), 103-109. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v039/39.2boos01.html

“Ten Journeys to the Venusberg: Morris’s Drafts for ‘The Hill of Venus.’” Victorian Poetry 39.4(2002), 597-615. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v039/39.4boos.html

“The ‘Homely Muse’ in her Diurnal Setting: “Marie,” Janet Hamilton, and Fanny Forrester in the Periodical Press,” Victorian Poetry 39.2 (2001), 255-85. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v039/39.2boos02.html

"The Year's Work in Victorian Poetry, 2001: Pre-Raphaelitism," Victorian Poetry 40.3 (2002), 319-26. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v040/40.3boos.html

“The Year’s Work in Victorian Poetry, 2000: Pre-Raphaelitism,” Victorian Poetry 39.3(2001), 478-90. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v039/39.3boos.html

“The Year’s Work in Victorian Poetry, 1999: Pre-Raphaelitism.” Victorian Poetry 38.3(2000), 437-47. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v038/38.3boos.html

“Violet Jacob.” Edwardian Women Poets 1880-1920, ed. William Thesing. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit, London: Bruccoli, Clark, Layman, 2001, 107-12.

“Annie Matheson.” Edwardian Women Poets 1880-1920, ed. William Thesing. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit, London: Bruccoli, Clark, Layman, 2001, 142-49.

“Janet Hamilton.” Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Colin Matthews, forthcoming Oxford University Press, 2003.

Ellen Johnston.” Nineteenth Century Women Writers, ed. Abigail Bloom. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000, 231-234.

“'The Banners of the Spring to Be’: The Dialectical Pattern of Morris’s Later Poetry.” English Studies 81 (2000): 1-27.

“The Year’s Work in Victorian Poetry, 1998: Pre-Raphaelitism.” Victorian Poetry 37.3 (1999), 55-64.

“'We Would Know Again the Fields. . . ‘: The Rural Poetry of Elizabeth Campbell, Jane Stevenson, and Mary Macpherson.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 17.2 (Fall 1998), 325-347.

“Janet Hamilton.” Victorian Women Poets, ed. William Thesing. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Columbia, S. C.: Bruccoli, Clark, Layman, 1998, 149-58.

“The Year’s Work in Victorian Poetry, 1997: Pre-Raphaelitism.” Victorian Poetry 36.3 (1998): 48-57.

“A History of Their Own: Late Nineteenth-Century Feminist Family History.” Contesting the Master Narrative: The Rhetoric of Social History, edited by Jeffrey Cox and Shelton Stromquist. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1998, 69-92.

News from Nowhere and Garden Cities: Morris’s Utopia and Nineteenth Century Town Design," Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies 7, new series (fall 1998): 4-27.

“Aesthetic Ecocommunism: Morris the Red and Morris the Green.” William Morris: Centenary Essays, edited by Peter Faulkner and Peter Preston. Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1998, 10-39.

“The Year’s Work in Victorian Poetry, 1996: Pre-Raphaelitism.” Victorian Poetry 35.3 (1997): 408-22.

“Visionary Storytelling: An Interview with Leslie Marmon Silko.” Reading the Short Story, edited by Mary Rohrberger. University of Mississippi: Oxford, 1997, 237-47.

an on-line illustrated edition of William Morris's News from Nowhere, Florence Boos with Louisa Efner and others, http://uiowa.edu/~wmorris/NewsFromNowhere/

morris textile designThe Earthly Paradise by William Morris, edited by Florence Boos

review by Shannon Rogers in the William Morris Society Newsletter, July 2002:

Boos, Florence S., ed. The Earthly Paradise. By William Morris. 2 vols. New York and London: Routledge Press, 2002. ISBN: 0-8153-2104-X. Cloth, $295.00/£195.

Florence Boos’s long-awaited two volume edition of Morris’s The Earthly Paradise will be a most valued resource for Morris scholars. A new edition has not appeared for many years, and a real critical edition not at all. In the words of the publisher, “this annotated critical edition is the first attempt to make Morris’s 42,000 word verse sequence accessible to a modern audience.” Accessible it is, and obviously a labor of love. In keeping with Morris’s principles that objects be beautiful as well as useful, and with his final vision of how this poem should be presented, Boos has provided readers with as close to a definitive version of The Earthly Paradise as is possible.

Based on evidence from the letters of William Morris, May Morris, and Sidney Cockerell, as well as manuscript alterations in Morris’s own hand, Boos has concluded that the 1896 Kelmscott edition—the last Morris himself had a part in—is the closest to a “final” text and bases her own edition most closely to it. “This edition will thus tend far more toward ‘preservationism’ than toward ‘critical reconstruction’” (41). With this in mind, included here are facsimile pages of the Kelmscott edition, providing the reader with an idea of the book’s original form. Illuminated capitals, leaf ornaments, and other punctuation idiosyncrasies are also retained, which sets a mood not simply formed by the text itself, but by visual impact paired with words. Also included here are many of the sketches completed by Edward Burne-Jones for inclusion in the planned illustrated Kelmscott edition, “the book that never was.” Finally, copies of Morris chintz and wallpaper patterns enable the reader to directly compare them to border designs in The Earthly Paradise, an important connection to the thread of continuity in Morris’s vision of life.

Boos’s general introduction provides both literary and biographical context, placing its provenance “in classical and medieval histories and legends; other Victorian long poems; and contemporary ethnographies, histories, and conceptions of history” (4-5). Her critical attention here is important in again tracing the continuity of Morris’s vision over the course of his life, as she finds hints of his later socialism both here and in his earlier works, although most of The Defence of Guenevere was based on “aristocratic” works. As Morris moves across the seasons in the cycle of The Earthly Paradise, his themes develop from royalty and topics of immortality toward folk tales and sexual desire as primary motivator in the later seasons. Boos interprets this as a movement toward Morris’s later principle that love—platonic, sexual, or simple good fellowship—should motivate all urges, a tenet central to his very personalized view of socialism’s principles.

Boos also addresses Morris’s much discussed “historicism,” making his often faulty interpretations of past events an excusable and necessary part of his doctrine of the poet as historian (24). “Even in his essays on socialism and popular art, he remained preoccupied with the need to recreate and reinterpret the past” (21). For Morris, it was not the events of the past that mattered, but the legends and the emotions that people carried with them and passed on as a legacy to future generations. He read old sources to tap those emotions, and then filtered them through his own experience in order to make them relevant to his own society. Therefore, for Morris, the poet achieved the real goal of the historian. Heroes and battles come and go, but passions are eternal.

In order to place this work critically, Boos helpfully provides an overview of assessments up to the present day. The poem was received well by Morris’s contemporaries who drew the obvious connections to Chaucer. Instead of making the same parallels to The Canterbury Tales, however, she quite accurately sees The Earthly Paradise as being closer to the Chaucer of Troilus and Criseyde and the dream poems. Of course, Boos’s own critical voice has been an important one in modern Morris scholarship and it is when she approaches each individual section of the sequence that her critical skills come to the fore. She provides criticism and sources prior to each entry: Apology, Prologue, the seasonal tales, and Epilogue. Along with explanatory footnotes in the text, these critical essays provide both the scholar with a wealth of information and the beginning student with guideposts to navigating this immense and daunting work. This edition should help to bring a new generation of readers to what many would call Morris’s masterpiece. It indeed fulfills the publisher’s promise to “encourage the reader to explore the weft and texture of one of the most beautiful verbal tapestries any English poet ever wrought.”

Current Project, The Mediated Muse: Working-Class Women Poets of Victorian Scotland

For some years I have published articles i hope to gather into a book with the working title The Mediated Muse: Working-Class Women's Poetry in Victorian Scotland. The first sustained discussion of working-class women’s poetry in its period, this book aims to broaden current conceptions of poetry, working-class culture, publishing practices, and editorial censorship in Victorian Britain.

Initially drawn to research the poetry of self-educated women at the margins of the conventonal Victorian "canon," I travelled around to local and regional libraries as well as repositiories of record throughout Britain, and was heartened to discover accomplished poems by working-class women which made significant contributions to little-studied aspects of Victorian working-class culture.

The revival of interest in Victorian women's poetry is only a couple of decades old, and its most influential critical contributions have concentrated almost entirely on the work of middle- and upper-class Vctorian writers such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Augusta Webster, Amy Levy and "Michael Field." My intentions in The Mediated Muse will be to redress some of these de facto exclusions, consider ways in which gender-bias, economic circmstances, and class-based expectations constrained women's expectations, and examine some of the deeper undercurrents of cultural nationalism, regional and dialect-usage, censorship, editorial patronage, near-total dependence on periodical publication and other circumstances which straitened the gate of working-class authorship and reception. Chapter divisions are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. 'We Would Know Again the Fields': Rural Women's Poetry
  3. "Oor Location": Janet Hamilton and the Working-Class Press
  4. "The Auld Blin' Grannie That Sings to Ye Noo!" Tradition and Social Critique in Hamilton's Writings on "Auld Scotland"
  5. "The Queen of the Far-Famed Penny Post": Ellen Johnston, 'The Factory Girl' and Her Audience"
  6. Jessie Russell, Lizzie Smith, Jeannie Paterson and Marion Bernstein: Unheeded Satirists of Ordinary Life Conclusion: Poetry and Patronage at Century's End