Cockney School of Poetry in English Literature – Meaning & Characteristics


The Cockney School of Poetry was a movement that started as a response to Romanticism that was domineering at that time. It was a literary movement begun by writers of the East End of London. Associated with the working labour class there, these poets wanted to establish and celebrate their way of everyday speech and hence commemorated the Cockney accent. 

Characteristics of the Cockney School of Poetry

Urban Life

As opposed to the focus on nature in Romanticism, the Cockney School of Poetry subverted this and instead shed light on urban life and the difficulties accompanying it. As mentioned above, the Cockney accent is used to realistically represent the same. 


Humour was another important feature found in the poems of these writers. This was often seen either in the form of satire or parody in commenting and critiquing on society. 

Poetic Form 

The Cockney School of Poetry rejected and shunned the conventional forms of poetry traditionally used. Instead, they preferred a more informal style that was based on spontaneity. They also, in this manner, made use of folk traditions such as the ballad form and street songs with story-telling narrative structures. 

Cockney School of Poetry Major Poets List and Their Important Works

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shelley, being the younger of the Romantics like Keats, had a different worldview regarding poetry. His work “The Mask of Anarchy”, for instance, is a political poem that covers the issue of the Peterloo massacre.

Leigh Hunt

Hunt was again a prominent member of this school. One notable work of his is his narrative poem “The Story of Rumini”.

John Clare

Clare too was an important member. His collection of poems “Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery” is a stark example of this. 


The Cockney School of Poetry, despite being hidden under the shadow of the Romantics, still managed to leave their own imprint in the history of English literature by representing the lives of the lower and middle-class labourers of London.