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Forgotten poetry of the Lancashire cotton famine

My research uncovered a window on a regional economic disaster caused by globalisation

By Simon Rennie  

©Wikimedia Commons

In spring 2015 I was in the market for a new literary research project when I heard a Radio 4 “In Our Time” broadcast about the Lancashire Cotton Famine of 1861-65. One of the panellists referred to the phenomenon of “Cotton Famine Poetry,” and my ears pricked up. I began to read the famous Lancashire dialect poets who had written on the subject—Edwin Waugh, William Billington, Samuel Laycock, and Joseph…

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