During the Romantic period, especially through the writings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (see his Biographia Literaria ) was distinguished from a related term, the Imagination.
"For Coleridge, fancy is a distinct faculty, dependent for its materials on the primary IMAGINATION and confined to manipulating, combining, and arranging phenomenal materials but incapable of the creation of materials. Fancy is , therefore, the lesser faculty by far" (198).
"The romantic critics conceived the imagination as a blending and unifying of the powers of the mind that enabled the POET to see inner relationships, such as the identity of truth and beauty. . . . Leslie Stephen stated the distinction briefly, 'FANCY deals with the superficial resemblances, and imagination with the deeper truths that underlie them.' . . . Imagination is usually viewed as a 'shaping' and ordering power, the function of which is to give art its special authority" (250).