Paul Douglass

Paul Douglass is Professor Emeritus of English and American Literature at San Jose State University, where he directed the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies and the Steinbeck Fellows Program. His research interests include British Romanticism (Byron Studies), Modern American Literature (Eliot and Steinbeck Studies), Literary Theory, and interdisciplinary approaches to literature-- through Music, Philosophy, and painterly aesthetics. He is the author of Lady Caroline Lamb: A Biography (Palgrave 2004), and co-editor, with Frederick Burwick, of a facsimile edition of Lord Byron and Isaac Nathan's A Selection of Hebrew Melodies, Ancient and Modern (University of Alabama Press, 1988). In 2007 he received the Elma Dangerfield Award of the International Byron Society for publication of new and original work related to the life, works and times of the 6th Lord George Gordon Noel Byron the Poet. In 2009 he was chosen as the President's Scholar of San Jose State University by President Jon Whitmore.

His selection of Lady Caroline Lamb's letters, The Whole Disgraceful Truth, was published by Palgrave in April 2006. Together with Leigh Wetherall, he edited The Works of Lady Caroline Lamb, published by Pickering and Chatto in 2009. This and other publications and projects are listed below in his summary of Scholarly Activity.

With Frederick Burwick (UCLA), he also curates the Romantic-Era Songs Web-Site dedicated to enabling scholars and music-lovers greater access to recordings of the Theater and Popular Songs, Catches, Airs, and Art Songs of the Romantic Period, including modern settings of Romantic-era lyrics.

CARO Website Homepage

Radio Interview (12 meg) "From the Bookshelf" with Gary Shapiro, KUSP Santa Cruz (June 2005)

Lady Caroline Lamb: A Biography


Palgrave Macmillan (October, 2004). (360 pp.)

ISBN 1-4039-6605-2

Order a Signed Copy for $18.00, Including Domestic Shipping



"Douglass’s insightful biography reintroduces us to a Caroline Lamb who is emotionally damaged, often egregious, but by no means the crazed flibbertigibbet of myth. He treats her as a woman of intelligence as well as passion, and above all as a writer: a courtesy anyone who has the discipline to write three novels in overheated circumstances certainly deserves." —Sunday Times ( UK)

Professor Douglass's riveting work, a triumph of scholarship and original research, is a much-needed corrective to the skewed portraits of the past. —Choice

"This professionally wrought biography provides a revisionist feminist view of a fascinating historical figure." —Booklist

"Has anyone else ever wished that Lady Caroline Lamb would attract her own Leslie Marchand [biographer of Byron]? Well, now she has a Marchand analogue in Paul Douglass, a biographer who pays his subject the compliment of taking her life seriously. . . a beautifully researched, clear, fair, sympathetic and fascinating account. I am willing to bet that Caroline Lamb herself would approve of what Paul Douglass says of her: for all her caprice and eccentricity, she seems to have possessed a fairmindedness that would appreciate Douglass's humane, carefully nuanced approach to biography." —The Byron Journal

"A monumental work of scholarship that illuminates, in a score of fascinating and unexpected ways, that famous woman 'of wild originality.'" —Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman, The Meaning of Everything, and A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.

"An exemplary blend of scholarship and sympathy, Lady Caroline Lamb gives us a vivid portrait of the life and times of a scatty, outrageous, self-destructive, and appealing woman, who out-emoted any heroine of Regency Romance, and actually snagged Byron. One reads the fascinating story with a growing conviction that the British aristocracy was almost entirely mad." —Ursula K. Le Guin, whose recent books include The Wave in the Mind and Gifts.

"This biography does full justice not only to Caroline Lamb's intelligence, willfulness, and capacity to outrage her family and friends, but also to her considerable literary gifts and feminist politics." —Anne K. Mellor, Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

"A fascinating biography that treats the poems and novels of Lady Caroline Lamb with insight and takes her seriously as a woman, an author, and a passionate witness of the foibles of her age." —Jonathan Gross, DePaul University, editor of Byron's Corbeau Blanc (Lady Melbourne's letters), and of two novels by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and author of Byron: The Erotic Liberal.

"Lady Caroline Lamb is a biographical triumph. Paul Douglass shows great sympathy and perceptiveness in his account of a woman hitherto most famous for her liaison with Byron. He persuades us that Lady Caroline played a role in changing the possibilities for women in the nineteenth century. And he brings out, too, the significance of Caroline’s own writings. Packed with original information and insight, Lady Caroline Lamb is, throughout, a pleasure to read." —Michael O’Neill, Professor of English, University of Durham.

"With the publication of Paul Douglass's biography, Lady Caroline Lamb has received what her life deserves: a thoughtful, scholarly, sympathetic yet penetrating account that neither reduces her to an unusually vocal and highborn bit player in the Byronic drama nor contorts her to an ideological exemplum of how women and their talents were repressed in Regency England. The result is a beautifully researched, clear, fair, and engrossing biography that permits a remarkable and complicated real woman, and her considerable talents, to emerge from the myths that have long veiled them." —Peter W. Graham, Clifford Cutchins Professor of English, Virginia Tech.

"Before Paul Douglass's immaculately researched, sympathetic, page-turning portrait of Lady Caroline Lamb, it had been her fate to be as maligned by her biographers as she was by her own friends and family. Lady Caroline emerges afresh from these pages as a woman funnier, cleverer, braver, more gifted and more tragic than we previously had cause to believe, and while her frantic affair with Byron remains the central moment of her life we can no longer say that it was the defining one. But Douglass does not tell the story of just one woman; so close was Lady Caroline Lamb to the political and cultural heart of the Regency that, in exploring so intelligently the causes and effects of her exhausting life, he gives us a new portrait of the age." —Frances Wilson, author of Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers and The Courtesan's Revenge: Harriette Wilson, the Woman who Blackmailed the King.


"Oh the low life of the high born! Paul Douglas's spirited account of Lady Caroline's love affairs, intrigues, ambitions, and accomplishments is compulsively readable. Lady Caroline emerges as one of the most endearing women in history, hot, generous, gifted, brave, wrong-headed and wise. I loved meeting her." —Molly Giles, author of Iron Shoes.


"Lady Caroline Lamb is best known as Byron's most clinging ex-lover, notorious for sending him clippings of her pubic hair and for her portrait of him in her scandalous first novel, Glenarvon. Without descending into psychobabble, Douglass, a professor of English and American literature at San Jose State University , reveals the stresses of his subject's childhood, including a mother who was almost always ill or in the midst of an affair. He gives a sympathetic though unsentimental account of Caroline's adult mania and addictions to drugs and alcohol. He evokes her stoically reserved husband, William Lamb, later prime minister of England, telling in intricate detail the chilling story of his family's numerous attempts to separate Caroline from him. To his credit, Douglass does not allow Byron to dominate the narrative. But he maintains that Byron's influence made Caroline write her novels, describing her literary ambition as a form of misguided psychological transference. Douglass faithfully catalogues the content of Caroline's three gothic novels, although some readers may find his attention to detail a little wearisome. Constructing his narrative largely from letters and diaries, Douglass provides a richly textured account of 19th-century aristocratic life, with all its sordid liaisons and backstabbing: a world in which the eccentrically emotive and indiscreet Caroline was all too vulnerable." —Publisher's Weekly. (October 2004).


"Paul Douglass's biography is the first to foreground the Romantic writer over the 'Byron woman' who descended into 'erotomania'. Douglass skilfully brings together the famous chapters in Lamb's life - marriage to the man who would become Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, extra-marital affairs, Byron, mental health problems and the 'madness of writing' - and combines this with new, meticulously researched, evidence of her life outside these events and with a narrative rich in social, political and cultural context. . . . Douglass's erudition arguably makes this the first literary biography of Lamb and it has excellent chapters on her later novels, neglected poetry and the music of Glenarvon. Douglass also makes good use of unpublished texts not previously discussed as part of Lamb's literary corpus, such as her amusing and scholarly letters and the writerly experiments in the commonplace books in the John Murray archive. . . . By focusing on Lamb's own writing, rather than gossip about her, Douglass allows Lamb to speak for herself. One of the main themes of this work is the underlying exploration of why Lamb has been ignored by 1980s feminist revisionism and 1990s studies of Romanticism and gender.... The theory that Lamb was only motivated to write after her affair with Byron was damaging to her literary reputation as her works were viewed as hysterical obsession. The discussion of Lamb's early writing works to dispel this archaic judgement, and the effects of the Byron affaire upon her work are treated sensitively and sensibly. " —British Association for Romantic Studies Bulletin & Review (October 2005).

Douglass makes it very clear that Lady Caroline brought much to her relationship with Byron, that she captivated his mind, and that her hold on him lasted far beyond their affair. This biography helps to ensure that Lady Caroline Lamb will be remembered along with Byron as long as he is remembered. Pacific Coast Philology (2007).


The Works of Lady Caroline Lamb

London: Pickering & Chatto (2009). (3 vols., 902 pp.)

ISBN: 9781851969029.

Pickering & Chatto Listing




This is the first scholarly critical edition of the works of Lady Caroline Lamb (1785–1828), the late Romantic-era novelist now most famous for her adulterous affair with Lord Byron. Her first novel, Glenarvon, is a scandalous roman à clef which hinges upon the relationship’s break-up. However, it also indicts Lamb’s friends and family as a morally bankrupt and ineffective aristocracy. Her familiarity with and criticism of the power structures of her time, mean that her novels deserve to be viewed within their wider cultural and historical contexts.

From birth, the intersecting worlds of politics and fashion surrounded Lamb. She was born into the heart of the ultra-cosmopolitan, politically frustrated Whig opposition. She was married to William Lamb, later Lord Melbourne and first prime minister to Queen Victoria. Her aunt was Georgiana, fifth Duchess of Devonshire. The Prince Regent was godfather to her only son. Her intellectual endeavours were supported by Edward and Rosina Bulwer Lytton, William Godwin, Lady Morgan, Amelia Opie, Elizabeth Benger and Elizabeth Spence. Culturally, she is an influential link between second-generation Romantic and first-generation Victorian writers.

This is the first edition to present Lamb’s works in a scholarly format. Graham Hamilton and Ada Reis have never been republished, and Gordon: A Tale has been misattributed to Byron. This edition will appeal to scholars of Romanticism and Women’s Writing.

  • Situates Lamb’s literary achievements within the wider context of her Whig allegiances, her sense of noblesse oblige and her promotion of aristocratic reform
  • Ada Reis and Graham Hamilton have never been republished before, Gordon: A Tale has been wrongly attributed to Byron
  • All texts are newly reset and editorial material includes a general introduction, volume introductions, headnotes and endnotes.


The Whole Disgraceful Truth: Selected Letters of Lady Caroline Lamb

New York: Palgrave (2006). (260 pp.)

ISBN: 1-4039-6958-2.

Palgrave Listing




"What is clearer than ever from Douglass’s superb transcriptions of her letters is that Caroline was not just insecure, possessive, and addicted to emotion: she was also highly intelligent, witty, independent, and creative. She speaks French at six-and-a-half; she’s quoting Macbeth at the age of eight (p.10); she reads, and approves of, Mary Wollstonecraft (p.46): Wollstonecraft “stands up for the rights of the Sex & wear[s] our shackles with dignity” (p.56). She writes letters in verse. . . . She’s angry at the double standard whereby Lady Oxford’s affair with Byron should be tolerated (p.120: “Such a Woman as Lady Oxford!”) while hers is frowned on. This is a point which I don’t recollect ever being made by anyone else. “What will not a Woman do to get rid of a rival?” she snarls (p.203). . . . The collection is full of revelations. . . . I feel, having read Paul Douglass’s edition, that I understand Caroline Lamb at last." —Peter Cochran, The Newstead Abbey Byron Society Review

"This extraordinarily talented woman of letters now speaks for herself in an impressively researched volume, allowing us to understand a much maligned figure, as tormented as she was tormenting, in all of her fascinating complexity—a must read for anyone with a serious interest in Romantic-era literature, history, domestic politics, or feminist studies." —Paula Feldman, University of South Carolina, author of British Women Poets of the Romantic Era

"This new edition of Caroline Lamb's Letters is a valuable resource and a vital complement to Douglass's impressive biography of Lamb.  With the publication of the Letters we can see the human side of Lamb as well as her version of the events that were so infamously portrayed in her novel Glenarvon.  Meticulously edited, this collection lets the 'Byronic heroine' speak in her own voice and it rounds out the portrait of a woman who is becoming increasingly important in the romantic canon." —Diane Long Hoeveler, Marquette University, author of Gothic Feminism: The Professionalization of Gender from Charlotte Smith to the Brontës .

"It was Caroline Lamb who coined the memorable phrase for her lover Lord Byron:  'mad, bad, and dangerous to know.'  It takes one to know one. The Whole Disgraceful Truth: Selected Letters of Lady Caroline Lamb not only does justice to this challenging subject, but provides a unique, indispensable, everywhere compelling view of the world of Regency aristocratic society:  its privilege, its high-living, its self-indulgent and frequently outrageous behavior.  Cutting a swath through it all is 'Caro,' the theatrical gamine whose passions evoked and provoked Byron (he called her a "little volcano").  In his masterfully developed, scrupulously well-informed, groundbreaking edition, Paul Douglass presents her correspondence from girlhood to dying days—an unrivaled cache of letters, cascading with passion and punctuated with outbursts of verse, that constitute a trove of inestimable historical value and irresistible entertainment." —Susan J. Wolfson, Princeton University, editor of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and the poems and letters of Felicia Hemans.

"Caro Lamb was as familiar with the world of the Whig English aristocracy and the circle round the Prince Regent as she was with such literary giants as Blake, Foscolo, Godwin and above all Lord Byron with whom she had a famous affair and whose disappeared Memoirs she read. We know her from report and from her novel Glenarvon but this volume, based on original research and hitherto unpublished material, gives us the life and voice of an extraordinary literary figure directly. The volume impresses both by the thoroughness of its scholarship and by the light yet sure touch with which Paul Douglass conducts us through an eccentric, moving, pathetic, but courageous life in letters. Byron complains of the labours of reading a ‘she-epistle’ but there are few labours in this fascinating window into Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath and one of the greatest periods of Romantic Poetry." —Bernard Beatty, University of Liverpool, former editor of The Byron Journal.


Paul Douglass: Scholarly Activity


The Romantics in Italy: Dante, Italian Culture, and Romantic Literature. Ed. and with contributions by Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

T. S. Eliot, Dante, and the European Tradition. Ed. and with a contribution by Paul Douglass. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Scholars P, 2011.

The Claremont Graduate University: A History of Its Early Development, by Malcolm Paul Douglass (my father), ed. by Paul Douglass. Claremont: CGU (via Xlibris), 2010.

Works of Lady Caroline Lamb. Ed. by Paul Douglass and Leigh Wetherall Dickson. 3 vols. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2009. Nominated by the publisher for the 2011 MLA Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition.

The Whole Disgraceful Truth: Selected Letters of Lady Caroline Lamb. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Lady Caroline Lamb: A Biography. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

The Crisis in Modernism: Bergson and the Vitalist Controversy, ed. by Paul Douglass and Frederick Burwick. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Repr. 2010.

Cradle of the Copperheads: A Novel by Jesse Stuart, edited and with an introduction by Paul Douglass. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988.

A Selection of Hebrew Melodies, Ancient and Modern, by Isaac Nathan and Lord Byron, a facsimile edited and with an introduction and notes by Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1988.

Bergson, Eliot, and American Literature. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1986.



The Steinbeck Newsletter, Vol. 7 (1994), nos. 1 and 2.

Steinbeck Studies, vol. 16 (2005), issues 1 and 2.

Steinbeck Review—merged with Steinbeck Studies, Vols. 3-7 (2006-2011) and continuing.



"On a Special Copy of Caroline Lamb's Glenarvon Recently Discovered in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek." Co-authored with Ria Grimbergen. The Byron Journal 37, 2 (2009): 151-60.

“Twisty Little Passages: Editing Glenarvon.” The Wordsworth Circle 40 (Spring and Summer 2009): 77-82.

“Lady Caroline Lamb’s Revisions to Her Novel Glenarvon: Some Observations.” Bulletin of the Byron Society in Australia 32 (2008): 31-38.

“An Interview With Corinne Cooke.” The Steinbeck Review 4, 1 (Spring 2007): 95-101.

“An Interview With Dr. James D. Watson.” The Steinbeck Review 4, 1 (Spring 2007): 115-118.

“Lord Byron’s Feminist Canon: Notes Toward Its Construction.” Romanticism on the Net #43 (August 2006). ISSN : 1467-1255 (electronic version)

“An Unpublished Letter of Lord Byron to Lady Caroline Lamb.” Notes and Queries (UK) Vol. 251 of continuous series, [New Series Vol. 53], no. 3 (September 2006): 322-23.

“That ‘Vital Spark of Genius’: Lady Caroline Lamb’s Writing Before Byron.” Co-authored with Rosemary March of Oxford University. Pacific Coast Philology 41 (2006): 43-62.

“ Paradise Decomposed: Byron’s Decadence and Wordsworthian Nature in Childe Harold III and IV.” The Byron Journal 34, 1 (Spring 2006): 9-19.

“Young Caroline: A Medea in the Making?” A View in the Rear-Mirror: Romantic Aesthetics, Culture, and Science Seen from Today—Festschrift for Frederick Burwick on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday. Studien zur Englischen Romantik #3. Ed. Walter Pape. Trier: Wissenschftlicher Verlag Trier, 2006. 73-88.

“Lady Caroline Lamb Before Byron: or, The Godfrey Vassal Webster Affair,” The Wordsworth Circle 36,3 (Summer 2005): 117-24.

“What Lord Byron Learned from Lady Caroline Lamb.” European Romantic Review 16,3 (July 2005): 273-81.

“Byron’s Life and His Biographers.” The Cambridge Companion to Byron, ed. Drummond Bone. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 7-26.

“Isaac Nathan and Lady Caroline Lamb: A Response to Graham Pont.” Newstead Abbey Byron Society Review (January 2004): 88-89.

"Eliot's Hulme—Or Pound's." ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews. 13, 1 (Winter 2000): 23-28.

"The Madness of Writing: Lady Caroline Lamb's Byronic Identity." Pacific Coast Philology (1999).

"Deleuze, Cinema, Bergson." Social Semiotics 8,1 (1998): 25-35.

"Playing Byron: Lady Caroline Lamb's Glenarvon and the Music of Isaac Nathan." European Romantic Review (1997).

"Reading the Wreckage: De-Encrypting Eliot's Aesthetics of Empire." Twentieth Century Literature 43,1 (Spring 1997): 1-26.

"Bionic Eye: The Resources and Limits of the Cinematic Apparatus." Pacific Coast Philology (1997).

"Deleuze and the Endurance of Bergson." Thought 67 (March 1992): 47-61.

"Loose Canon on the Deck," Pacific Coast Philology 24,1-2 (July 1991): 26-34.

"Modernism and Science: The Case of Pound's ABC of Reading " Paideuma, 18 (Spring & Fall, 1989): 187-96.

"'The Theory of Poetry Is the Theory of Life': Bergson and the Later Stevens," in Critical Essays on Wallace Stevens, Steven Gould Axelrod and Helen Deese, eds. G.K. Hall & Co., 1988. 245-60.

Cradle of the Copperheads : Education and the Career of Jesse Stuart," Appalachian Journal, 15 (Spring 1988): 224-36.

"Such as the Life Is, Such Is the Form: Organicism Among the Moderns," Approaches to Organic Form. D. Reidel, 1987. 253-273.

"Hebrew Melodies as Songs: Why We Need a New Edition," The Byron Journal 14 (1986): 12-21.

"Isaac Nathan's Settings for the Hebrew Melodies," English Romanticism: The Paderborn Symposium 1 (1985): 139-151.

"The Gold Coin: Bergsonian Intuition and Modernist Aesthetics," Thought 58 (June 1983): 234-50.

"Eliot's Cats: Serious Play Behind the Playful Seriousness," Children's Literature (Yale) 11 (1983), pp. 109-24.

"Opposition is True Friendship: Keeping Spirit and Body Together in the Writing Curriculum," Claremont Reading Conference Yearbook 46 (1982): 65-75.



British Romanticism and the Jews: History, Culture, Literature, by Sheila A. Spector for Keats-Shelley Journal (2005).

Review-Essay of Byron as Reader, Lord Byron: A Multidisciplinary Forum, and Byron: East and West for the Newstead Abbey Byron Society Review (2002).

Review-Essay of Joanne Wilkes’s Lord Byron and Madame de Staël, Paul Elledge’s Lord Byron at Harrow School, Jonathan Gross’s Byron: The Erotic Liberal, and Caroline Franklin’s Byron: A Literary Life for European Romantic Review (2002).

Byromania: Portraits of the Artist in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Culture by Frances Wilson for Keats-Shelley Journal (2001).

Byron's Le Corbeau Blanc: The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne by Jonathan Gross for Keats-Shelley Journal (1999);

Byromania: Portraits of the Artist in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Culture by Frances Wilson and Byron's Le Corbeau Blanc: The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne by Jonathan Gross for The Wordsworth Circle 30, 4 (Autumn 1999): 225-26.

Fantasy, Forgery, and the Byron Legend by James Soderholm in European Romantic Review (1998).

The Conservative Imagination by Philip Thody in The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms. 1,8 (1997).

Manuscripts of the Younger Romantics: A Facsimile Edition, with Full Transcriptions and Scholarly Apparatus . Lord Byron. Vol. XIII. The Prisoner of Chillon and Don Juan Canto IX, ed. Peter Cochran in Keats-Shelley Journal (1996).

T. S. Eliot and American Philosophy: The Harvard Years by Manju Jain in Philosophy and Literature (1994).

Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State by Tom Paulin in Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature (1993).

Re-Making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition by Lynn Keller in The Modern Language Review (1990).

The Romantic Foundations of the American Renaissance by Leon Chai in The Yearbook of English Studies (1990).

The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth-Century Thought by Sanford Schwartz in Modern Language Quarterly (1986).



“Late Hike” [poem]. Caesura. Spring 2007: 64.

Obituary of Leslie Marchand (Byron's biographer) in Australian Byron Society Newsletter 24 (2000): 25-26.

"Patronage of Writers, Explosion of Awards Corrode Independence of the Literary World." San Jose Mercury News. Section C, p. 1. Sunday, January 24, 1999.


Theater and Popular Songs, Catches, Airs, and Art Songs of the Romantic Period, maintained by Paul Douglass in collaboration with Frederick Burwick.


Paul Douglass
Department of English and Comparative Literature
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA, 95192-0090

Phone: 408-924-4429
Fax: 408-924-4580