Genre, Geography and the Question of the National Tale: D. P. Campbell’s Harley Radington’

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This article explores the Shetland writer Dorothea Primrose Campbell's 1821 novel Harley Radington in the context of the national tale genre. As the first Shetland-set novel, Harley Radington draws on themes, plots, and characters from earlier regional novels, especially those of Maria Edgeworth. The novel focuses on the journey of the metropolitan hero to a distant part of the nation where he has family associations, and touches on questions of gender, superstition, ethnography, land improvement, and travel. Yet because the national tale is so closely associated with Ireland and the Scottish Highlands, Campbell's Shetland-set story does not easily map onto the cultural geographies of the genre. Instead of a dual structure of England and its Celtic other, Campbell employs a shifting triad of England, Scotland and Shetland. By exposing the tensions between the unifying pull of the national narrative, and the singular demands of the unfamiliar local, Harley Radington addresses the place of the “marginal” or “peripheral” location in the novel genre's political function of drawing up the contours of a United Kingdom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-611
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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