Date 1876-10-28
Publication Examiner
Topic WMR defends his Shelley edits from Forman
AP display
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Subject literature
Keywords WMR Shelley edits
  ↳ Examiner
  ↳ Forman
Standards WMR editorial standards
Notes 3 xref
  ↳ see also WMR reviews Forman 77.10.13.

Annotation details

76 October 28 The Examiner


WMR refutes Forman's critique of Rossetti's Shelley edition.


Rossetti, William M. "Mr. W. M. Rossetti and Shelley." The Examiner 1214 (October 28, 1876): 1214. Web. 21 September 2011.


Rossetti firmly refutes the accusations by Foreman published in The Examiner regarding his editing of Shelley. Foreman stated that Rossetti "without compunction" amended Shelley's text. Rossetti denies this accusation and offers his own rationale for the few changes he made.

Rossetti had in fact carefully considered and debated all of the editing of the poems beforehand, with both Dante Rossetti and Algernon Swinburne (Letters 321), weighing each change carefully. Dante Rossetti believed William didn't make all of the changes required (Reminiscences 2:361), as did William Bell Scott, one of the Rossetti brother's inner circle of friends who frequented their Cheyne Walk home (Reminiscences 2:327). William Rossetti disagreed with Swinburne who advocated less change, citing the poet's well-known laxity in the areas of handwriting and proofreading. Rossetti pointed out to Swinburne later that Swinburne's published article critiquing Rossetti's editing process was incorrect, but in that Swinburne was himself an accomplished poet, Rossetti allowed that Swinburne had the greater right to judge Rossetti's edits (Letters 326).

Looking back on the editing controversy, Rossetti states "My own conviction was, and still is, that an editor is entitled, and even required, to correct absolute blunders, provided always that he plainly notifies every correction which he thus makes" (Reminiscences 2:360).

Nonetheless, the Editor of The Examiner has the final word on this controversy, reinforcing Forman's view that Rossetti amended the text of Shelley more than was prudent or called for. Rossetti, however, reviews Forman's edition of Shelley a year later, finding multiple inaccuracies and while not directly criticizing Forman's editing, Rossetti explains the differences between his philosophy of editing and Forman's.




WMR's Shelley

Standards of Judgment:

WMR's editorial standards

Rhetoric and tone:

rebuttal, polemical


Foreman, Shelley, Rossetti


"extremely incorrect."

Works Cited

Rossetti, William Michael. Some Reminiscences of William Michael Rossetti. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner, 1906. Print.

Rossetti, William Michael. Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti. Ed. Roger Peattie. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1990. Print.