Expectations of darkness; the "blind poet" P.B. Marston

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If Philip Bourke Marston (1850–1887) is remembered at all today, he is remembered as a “blind poet”, a protégé of Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the later Pre-Raphaelite movement.1 This essay demonstrates that in his first volume of poetry, published in 1871, Marston actually fought to establish a poetic identity for himself that was distinct from his visual impairment. A consideration of the nineteenth-century pressures to “pass” as able-bodied or to “perform” his disability, pressures that I show to be compounded by Victorian ideals of post-Romantic poetic identity, demonstrates Marston’s engagement with contemporary debates over the role and remit of the poet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-249
Number of pages19
JournalVictorian Poetry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • disability studies
  • victorian poetry
  • blindness
  • pre-raphaelite


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