Laboring-Class Poets Online

Laboring-Class Poets Online is a database-driven website that aggregates biographical and bibliographical information about the more than 2,000 laboring-class poets who published between 1700 and 1900 and the texts they produced. It functions as a clearinghouse for data about poets from the lower classes who lived in the British Isles or in British colonies, and thereby helps demonstrate the importance of laboring-class writing to social and literary history. While LCPO is now a digital resource, it draws on a long history of textual and archival scholarship that began over thirty years ago. John Goodridge began collecting information about non-canonical poets in the late 1980s as a response to a Dictionary of National Biography request for missing names. Goodridge “was increasingly frustrated at the refusal of those who taught and researched canonical writers to even acknowledge that the poets they knew nothing about and hadn't read might affect their perceptions of literary history,” and submitted a relatively small collection of 500 British poets to the DNB to bring attention to this underappreciated tradition.

This list was later narrowed to focus on solely laboring-class figures, and in 2001 Goodridge released the first version of his “superlist” as a tie-in to the six-volume Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century English Labouring-Class Poets resource (Pickering & Chatto, 2003-2006). The list featured 659 “named poets” with additional “anonymous, pseudonymous, and group productions,” and compiled “a concise paragraph on each individual including vital dates and a short description, key publications in short form, and secondary sources” (Database 2001).

Sixteen years later, the superlist includes over 2,000 poet entries, many of which have been significantly expanded from their original terse forms. While the superlist has been available for download as a Microsoft Word document since 2011, LCPO adds significant functionality by transforming this static list into a standalone website driven by a relational database. Compared to an unstructured text-centric dataset, LCPO natively includes multimedia assets such as images and audio; improves collaboration between project researchers; enhances the project’s extensibility, maintainability, and visibility; provides direct references to internal and external resources and secondary sources; empowers users to perform complex queries across numerous controlled fields; and invites users to interact with content through numerous data visualizations including geographic maps, timelines, charts, and network graphs.

LCPO is currently seeking help with beta testing, research, proofing poet entries, and data entry.


Kinds of collaborators
Individual/small group
Graduate students
Undergraduate students
Help description
LCPO is currently seeking help with beta testing, research, proofing poet entries, and data entry.
Contact person
Help needed



Project Collaborators