The following is all of the first names of the poets included in the anthology “Immortal Poems”, in chronological order.
Geoffrey John Thomas Philip Walter
Edward Edmund George Samuel Michael
Christopher William Thomas Thomas Ben
John John Robert George James Thomas Edmund
John John William Richard Richard Abraham
Andrew Henry John Thomas William George
Berkeley John Alexander William Thomas
William Christopher Oliver William
Thomas William Robert William Samuel
Thomas Walter Thomas Leigh George Percy
William John Thomas Ralph Thomas, Elizabeth,
John Henry Edward Edgar Alfred
Oliver Robert Edward, Emily,
James Herman Walt Charles Arthur, Julia,
Matthew Dante George, Christina, Emily,
Lewis William Algernon Thomas Sidney
Gerard Robert William Francis John Alfred
George William Rudyard Ernest Edgar Edwin
William Walter Robert John, Sarah, Carl
Harold Vachel Wallace William, Elinor,
David Ezra Rupert Robinson Edwin,
Marianne, Thomas John Conrad, Edna,
John Archibald Wilfred Edward Robert
Francis Allen Hart Oscar Ogden Cecil
Richard Peter Esther William Vernon
Wystan Louis Stephen Alfred William,
Elizabeth, Lawrence Frank Delmore Karl
George Henry John Robert, Gene, Dylan
Simon Wake says:
Immortal Poets was constructed to demonstrate some simple patterns in the index of “Immortal Poems” edited by Oscar Willams. The first pattern that struck me was the repetition in the first names, particularly of William, John, and Thomas. After I read the entire index I realized that there were almost no women included in this anthology. 10 of the 111 poets involved (9%). There are 13 “William”s. There are 13 “Thomas”s. There are 14 “John”s.
To help demonstrate the relative absence of women I placed an emphasis on the women who are present in the text by separating them with a line break on either side of their names.
The patterns of this text also shows the non-linear nature of women’s place in the cannon. In the early history of the English literature there are few canonical women… the number rises around the later Victorian period, declines again in the early modernist period, to rise again during later modernism, and decline again during and following WWII.
While I am critiquing the male dominance of the canon invoked in this book I did not intend to degrade this anthology. I only investigated this anthology because I had enjoyed it. Many of the “William”s and “John”s are true geniuses and the poems selected are good examples of their work. The introduction to this book is deeply felt and well thought-out. The intent of this piece is to draw attention to the general system which allows many female geniuses whose names and works have become lost to time.