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British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception

History of British Fiction, 1800–1829

This database project arises from more than fifteen years’ general research into Romantic-era British fiction, which culminated in the publication by Oxford University Press of a two-volume bibliography in April 2001, edited by Peter Garside, James Raven and Rainer Schöwerling, and entitled The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles. In particular, this phase of research benefited greatly from co-operation between researchers at Cardiff University and Projekt Corvey at Paderborn University in Germany, which among other things enabled access to the unique collection of English-language novels of the Romantic era held in Schloss Corvey.

The British Fiction, 1800–1829 team consists of Professor Peter Garside, the project director, whose original research forms the core of the bibliographical records contained in the database; Drs Jacqueline Belanger and Sharon Ragaz, the AHRB-funded researchers responsible for complementing this bibliographical base with substantial contextual materials from the period; and Dr Anthony Mandal, the developer of the database and designer of the British Fiction, 1800–1829 website.

Origins (1997–99)
An earlier version of database was developed in March 1997 by Professor Peter Garside and Dr Anthony Mandal, with invaluable assistance provided through the expertise of the Projekt Corvey team, based at the University of Paderborn. The initial aim of the project was to create a tool, which complemented but did not duplicate the material provided in The English Novel. The database was designed to allow a broad and sophisticated level of analysis of over 2,250 titles from the period 1800–29. Data were entered into a Microsoft Access database over the course of three months, and the database was then updated as new bibliographical information became available. Click here to go to the top of the page.This initial database was designed for the purposes of statistical analysis; however, a new version was developed as an archival resource for recording contextual materials, forming the basis of the present British Fiction, 1800–1829 database.

Phase Two: Pilot Project (2000–01)
By mid-1999, the database consisted of 2,256 discrete items which recorded basic bibliographical data for each title. Following the initial award of an internal grant from Cardiff University, we were able to develop a pilot scheme in order to explore new areas covering the production and reception of fiction at this time. In February 2000, Dr Jacqueline Belanger was appointed as a full-time Postdoctoral Research Associate responsible for the gathering of pertinent information from a variety of sources. These were then to be added to the records as appropriate, in order to build on our perceptions of the presentation of and reaction to fiction of the early nineteenth century. Sources marked for examination included entries in circulating-library catalogues, subscription lists, reviews, newspaper announcements and advertisements, publishing papers, and anecdotal information. During this stage of the project, a sizeable amount of material was already accumulated from these fields with the long-term aim of mounting on the database.

Creating British Fiction, 1800–1829 (2001–04)
In May 2001, a further grant was awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board to extend the database project beyond the pilot scheme, with the aim of mounting the resource on the Internet, in the form of a freely accessible website, and in October 2001 Dr Sharon Ragaz joined the project as the second key researcher. Concluding in October 2004, the project will create a full record of contemporary fiction as it was produced, circulated, and received in Britain during the period 1800–29.

Over the last three years, we have focused on the acquisition of contemporary materials in order to provide a more comprehensive context for the primary bibliographical data already available. As well as providing supplementary data to the bibliographical record which itself forms the core of the database, examination of these sources and information from other researchers have uncovered additional titles and further details about works listed in The English Novel, all of which is incorporated dynamically into the database. Since December 2000, much of the secondary information has been made accessible to the academic community in ‘snapshot’ form, via our online Romantic-studies journal Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text.

A trial version of the final database was mounted for evaluation by the project Advisory Board at the end of October 2003. In addition to the main bibliographical records, this version of the database contained all relevant Anecdotal Records collected to date. Since then, further updates have been made to the online database, including the implementation of three more categories of secondary material: Contemporary Libraries, Publishing Papers, and Subscription Lists. The summer of 2004 saw the addition of the remaining two categories of secondary material (Newspaper Advertisements and Contemporary Reviews) and saw the completion of the various guides to using the database, and the implementation of necessary adjustments and corrections to the database infrastructure.

 © 2004 Project Director: Professor Peter Garside;
 Research Associates: Dr Jacqueline Belanger, Dr Sharon Ragaz;
 Database/Website Developer: Dr Anthony Mandal
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