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Upcoming article by Woolley will include new Swift work

James Woolley, Frank Lee and Edna M. Smith Professor of English, will present his research on a manuscript of poems by the great Irish satirist Jonathan Swift at 4:10 p.m., March 26, in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library. The manuscript includes an unpublished poem that Woolley will discuss during his talk.

His talk is a preview of his article, “Swift’s ‘Skinnibonia’: A New Poem from Lady Acheson’s Manuscript,” which will appear later this year in a book entitled Reading Swift: Papers from the Fifth M�nster Symposium on Jonathan Swift. The book is edited by Hermann J. Real and will be published in Munich by the German academic press Wilhelm Fink. The article will publish the new poem, “An Excellent New Panegyrick on Skinnibonia,” for the first time and will include some photographs of the manuscript.

During the next few years, the poem will be republished in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift, of which Woolley is one of the editors.

The 100-line poem by Swift is a playful satire on Anne, Lady Acheson. In 1728, Swift was visiting her and her husband, Sir Arthur Acheson, at their home in Market Hill, a village not far from Armagh in the north of Ireland. While there he wrote this and many other lively poems that exploit Swift’s keen interest in the language and circumstances of daily life. The other Market Hill poems have been published, but for reasons not entirely clear, this one has escaped publication.

In 1730, Swift and Lady Acheson began compiling his Market Hill poems in a blank book. Later in the 18th century, the volume was used, probably by members of the Acheson family, to transcribe poems by other writers. These poems are mostly on Irish topics and in some cases are unpublished. All told, the volume is one of the most important surviving collections of eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish manuscript verse, says Woolley.

Woolley’s research on this manuscript was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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