New Book | Carrying All before Her

Posted in books by Editor on June 30, 2022

From the University of Delaware Press:

Chelsea Phillips, Carrying All before Her: Celebrity Pregnancy and the London Stage, 1689–1800 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2022), 304 pages, ISBN: 978-1644532492, $120 / ISBN: 978-1644532485, $35.

The rise of celebrity stage actresses in the long eighteenth century created a class of women who worked in the public sphere while facing considerable scrutiny about their offstage lives. Such powerful celebrity women used the cultural and affective significance of their reproductive bodies to leverage audience support and interest to advance their careers, and eighteenth-century London patent theatres even capitalized on their pregnancies. Carrying All Before Her uses the reproductive histories of six celebrity women—Susanna Mountfort Verbruggen, Anne Oldfield, Susannah Cibber, George Anne Bellamy, Sarah Siddons, and Dorothy Jordan—to demonstrate that pregnancy affected celebrity identity, impacted audience reception and interpretation of performance, changed company repertory and altered company hierarchy, influenced the development and performance of new plays, and had substantial economic consequences for both women and the companies for which they worked. Deepening the fields of celebrity, theatre, and women’s studies, as well as social and medical histories, Phillips reveals an untapped history whose relevance and impact persists today.

Chelsea Phillips is an associate professor of theatre at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.



1  Inheriting Greatness: Susanna Mountfort Verbruggen and Anne Oldfield
2  Pregnant Sensibility: Susannah Cibber and George Anne Bellamy
3  Conceiving Genius: Sarah Siddons
4  Prolific Muse: Dorothy Jordan
Conclusion: Celebrity Pregnancy, Then and Now

Appendix: Birth and Christening Dates

New Book | Celebrity across the Channel, 1750–1850

Posted in books by Editor on June 30, 2022

From the University of Delaware Press:

Anaïs Pédron and Clare Siviter, eds., Celebrity across the Channel, 1750–1850 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2021), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-1644532126, $120 / ISBN: 978-1644532133, $35.

Celebrity across the Channel, 1750–1850 is the first book to study and compare the concept of celebrity in France and Britain from 1750 to 1850 as the two countries transformed into the states we recognize today. It offers a transnational perspective by placing in dialogue the growing fields of celebrity studies in the two countries, especially by engaging with Antoine Lilti’s seminal work, The Invention of Celebrity, translated into English in 2017.

With contributions from a diverse range of scholarly cultures, the volume has a firmly interdisciplinary scope over the time period 1750 to 1850, which was an era marked by social, political, and cultural upheaval. Bringing together the fields of history, politics, literature, theater studies, and musicology, the volume employs a firmly interdisciplinary scope to explore an era marked by social, political, and cultural upheaval. The organization of the collection allows for new readings of the similarities and differences in the understanding of celebrity in Britain and France. Consequently, the volume builds upon the questions that are currently at the heart of celebrity studies.

Anaïs Pédron is an independent scholar based in London, England. She has recently published the article “‘Nous aussi nous sommes citoyennes’: Female Activism during the French Revolution” in Women in French Studies (special issue 2019) and the chapter “Olympe de Gouges, anti-esclavagiste et anticolonialiste?” in Les Lumières, l’esclavage et l’idéologie coloniale: XVIIIe–XIXe siècle (2020), edited by Pascale Pellerin.

Clare Siviter is a theater historian of the longer French Revolutionary period and is lecturer in French Theatre at the University of Bristol. She is the author of Tragedy and Nation in the Age of Napoleon.


List of Illustrations

Antoine Lilti, Preface
Anaïs Pédron and Clare Siviter, Introduction

Section I: Theorizing Celebrity
1  Chris Haffenden, ‘Immortality in This World’: Reconfiguring Celebrity and Monument in the Romantic Period
2  Blake Smith, The Scholar as Celebrity: Anquetil-Duperron’s Discours Préliminaire
3  Meagan Mason, The Physiognomies of Virtuosi in Paris, 1830–1848

Section II: Representing Celebrity
4  Anna Senkiw, ‘To Perdition’: Politicians, Players, and the Press
5  Anaïs Pédron, Clairon’s Strategies to Achieve Celebrity and Glory
6  Miranda Kiek, Celebrity—Thou Art Translated! Corinne in England
7  Clare Siviter, Celebrity across Borders: The Chevalier d’Eon

Section III: Inheriting Celebrity
8  Emrys D. Jones: ‘Knowing My Family’: Dynastic Recognition in Eighteenth-Century Celebrity Culture
9  Gabriel Wick, Princes of the Public Sphere: Visibility, Performance, and Princely Political Activism, 1771–1774
10  Ariane Viktoria Fichtl, Ancient Parallels to Eighteenth-Century Concepts of Celebrity
11  Laure Philip, The Celebrity, Reputation, and Glory of the Empire and Restoration France through the Lens of Adèle de Boigne’s Memoirs

About the Contributors

Exhibition | Grand Tour: The Two Horaces and the Court of Florence

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on June 29, 2022

Thomas Patch, A Caricature Group in Florence, ca. 1765–66, oil on canvas, 84 × 119 cm
(Exeter: Royal Albert Memorial Museum)

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From the press release (via London Art Week) for the exhibition:

The Grand Tour: The Two Horaces and the Court of Florence
Strawberry Hill House & Garden, Twickenham, 27 March — 24 July 2022

Curated by Silvia Davoli

The third In Focus display at Strawberry Hill House was inspired by a survey of the architecture of Florence, richly illustrated by the renowned Italian architect Ferdinando Ruggeri in 1722, which has now returned to the house 300 years after its publication.

The display is dedicated to the Italian Grand Tour, in particular the friendship between Strawberry Hill creator Horace Walpole (1717–1797) and the British Envoy to Florence, Horace Mann (1706–1786). Both men were infatuated with Florence and the Medici family. “I can truly say that I never was happy but at Florence,” wrote Horace Walpole in his correspondence (vol.19, p.486).

Strawberry Hill contained a conspicuous number of Florentine works of art received as gifts or acquired thanks to the intervention of Horace Mann—Walpole’s library included biographies, festival books, catalogues of the Medici’s collections, and books dedicated to Florence. Walpole even contemplated writing a history of the Medici Family, starting to prepare for it in 1759, but eventually dropped the project due to a lack of archival material.

The exhibition is inspired by three volumes of Studio d’architettura civile sopra gli ornamenti di porte, e finestre .. tratte da alcune fabbriche insigni di Firenze, which had been illustrated by the renowned Italian architect Ferdinando Ruggieri (1691–1741) and produced exactly 300 years ago in 1722. The volumes, which represent a rare survey of Florentine architecture, are illustrated with exquisite plates showing the works by the leading Mannerist architects active in Florence between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, including Ammanati, Buontalenti, Dosio, Vasari, Michelangelo, and Cigoli.

Originally part of Walpole’s Library, they were dispersed at auction in 1842 along with the rest of the collection. It is thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme, administered by the Arts Council, that these three volumes have finally returned home. The purpose of the show is to place Ruggeri’s volumes at the centre of a dense network of relationships and works of art that resonate with Walpole’s infatuation with Florence and the Medici.

Mann, who arrived in Florence in 1737, was a leading figure at the Court of Florence, not only from a diplomatic point of view but also for his indefatigable promotion of the arts. Highly esteemed by the Florentine intelligentsia, he became a point of reference for all the British Grand tourists. Some of the most iconic objects in the Walpole collection were received thanks to Mann’s mediation, from the portrait of Bianca Capello—the unfortunate wife of Francesco I de Medici—to the famous marble Roman Eagle, one of Walpole’s most treasured trophies.

After Walpole’s departure, the two men were never to meet again. However, their correspondence, which covers over 40 years, constitute a lively and invaluable source of information about the cultural and artistic life of Florence at that time, while simultaneously illustrating in detail the artistic relations, antiquarian interests, and dissonances in taste of the two friends.

“Their letters not only provide us with invaluable information about contemporary collecting, the Italian art market and British taste, but also about political matters and diplomatic conundrums,” notes Dr Silvia Davoli, Strawberry Hill’s Curator.

The three volumes will be displayed together with a series of important paintings and objects coming both from public and private collections that tell us more about the passion of the two Horaces for Florence and their antiquarian pursuits. These include some of Thomas Patch’s most distinctive paintings and engravings; various extraordinary portraits such as Walpole as a young grand tourist by Venetian painter Rosalba Carriera (Lord Cholmondeley’s Collection) and Horace Mann by Anton Van Maron (private collection); a splendid trompe-l’oeil or inganno by Caterina della Santa with a dedication to Cavaliere Orazio Mann; along with the typical grand tourist paraphernalia including antique gems, ancient coins, drawings, and engravings.

Strawberry Hill House & Garden has been open to visitors for over 250 years. Created by renowned writer Horace Walpole (1717–1797), Strawberry Hill is internationally famous as Britain’s finest example of domestic Georgian Gothic revival architecture. Walpole was a pivotal figure in 18th-century society, literature, art and architecture. The third son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, Horace Walpole was a man of many talents with a large network of influential friends. From 1739 to 1741, Walpole embarked on a Grand Tour and European influences can be seen in the design of Strawberry Hill House and the works that formed its vast collection of treasures. He was author of the world’s first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto.

Talk | Pride of Passage: Strawberry Hill

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 29, 2022

Celebrating Pride Month, in conjunction with the exhibition The Grand Tour: The Two Horaces and the Court of Florence; from EventBrite:

Pride of Passage: Strawberry Hill, Sexuality, and the Grand Tour
The London Library, St James’s Square, 29 June 2022, 7pm

Last year World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced a commitment to Underrepresented Heritage as one of three global priorities. This year is significant for the Pride movement and LGBTQ+ community, as it marks the 50 years since the first Pride took place in the United Kingdom. Join WMF Britain for its annual Paul Mellon Lecture, in partnership with Strawberry Hill House and Queer Britain.

This special event will take a fresh look at Horace Walpole, the creator of the ‘little Gothic castle’ at Strawberry Hill, his sexuality, and the liberating impact of the Grand Tour, exploring research into the correspondence between his network of friends and acquaintances, which has informed the interpretation of the house and collection. The discussion will also address the importance of telling historical LGBTQ+ narratives across the cultural sector, ensuring these stories are preserved, understood, and celebrated.

The event, hosted by John Darlington, Executive Director at WMF Britain, will spotlight WMF’s focus on underrepresented heritage and its involvement at Strawberry Hill. Dan Vo, Head of Learning and Engagement at Queer Britain, will join Joseph Galliano, Director and Co-Founder of Queer Britain, in conversation, taking the audience on their own Grand Tour, from Walpole to the UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum. The event will include a Q&A with both speakers.

“Queer people have impacted every part of culture, yet all too often their lives have been written in the margins of history books.” –Queer Britain

John Darlington is Executive Director of World Monuments Fund in Britain. He is an archaeologist, author, and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries with over 30 years’ experience of heritage conservation in the UK and internationally. Prior to joining WMF, John was Regional Director for the National Trust in Northwest England and County Archaeologist for Lancashire.

Joseph Galliano is Director and Co-Founder of Queer Britain. He is a fundraiser, journalist, former editor of Gay Times magazine, and third sector ambassador manager who has just opened the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum, Queer Britain, at 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross, N1C 4BH.

Dan Vo is Head of Learning and Engagement at Queer Britain and Project Manager of the Queer Heritage and Collections Network. He founded the award-winning volunteer-led V&A LGBTQ+ Tours and has developed LGBTQ+ programmes for the National Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, National Museum Wales, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, among others.

Conference | Portrait Miniatures

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on June 28, 2022

From the Tansey Miniatures Foundation and the conference programme:

Portrait Miniatures: Artists, Functions, and Collections
Celle Castle, Tansey Miniatures Foundation, Celle Castle (near Hanover), 9–11 September 2022

This conference will take place in conjunction with the seventh exhibition of the Tansey Miniatures Foundation and the publication of the accompanying catalogue Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon in the Tansey Collection. 23 speakers from 11 different countries will address a range of topics related to portrait miniatures:
• Individual miniaturists, specific workshop contexts, and places of production
• Use and functions of both court and private types and their protagonists
• Iconographic aspects in the context of representation or intimacy
• Evolution of techniques and materials
• Private and public collections

The conference will be in English. The presentations will subsequently be published in a richly illustrated book. Admission is free. Both conference venues are within walking distance (20 minutes) from the railway station. Trains from Hannover take approximately 25 to 45 minutes (Deutsche Bahn, Metronom, and S-Bahn). For registration, please contact Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, The Tansey Miniatures Foundation, juliane.schmieglitz-otten@tansey-miniatures.com. For more information, please contact Bernd Pappe, The Tansey Miniatures Foundation, bernd.pappe@tansey-miniatures.com.

F R I D A Y ,  9  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 2

16.00  Registration

18.00  Welcome and Opening Lectures
• Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, Realism and Modernism in the Likenesses of a New Epoch: Highlights of the Exhibition Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon
• Bernd Pappe, Making a Small Man Great: Miniatures of Napoleon I
• Birgitt Schmedding, Two Views: The Power of Seeing

S A T U R D A Y ,  1 0  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 2

9.00  Objects, Agencies, and Social Practices
• Gerrit Walczak (Berlin), Icons of Intimacy: Sex, Agency, and the Portrait Miniature
• André and Anne-Marie Regnard-Denis (Belgium), Gestures and Their Meaning in Portrait Miniatures
• Karin Schrader (Bad Nauheim), ‘Telling Objects’: Miniatures in 18th-Century Courtly Portraits
• Lea C. Stephenson (Philadelphia), Racial Capital: Peter Marié’s Miniatures and Gilded Age Whiteness
• Jann Matlock (London), The Museum of Lost Portraits: Paris, 1794–1805
• Damiët Schneeweisz (London), Shipped, Worn, or Carried: Portrait Miniatures in the Atlantic Ocean World

13.00  Lunch

14.15  Politics and Representation
• Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten (Celle), Pictorial Family Ties: Series of Portrait Miniatures Serving Political Networks
• Martin Miersch (Ulm), Fashion and Political Statement: Portrait Miniatures from the Time of the French Revolution
• Maxime Charron (Paris), Examples of Intimate Portraits from the Royal and Imperial Courts of France during the First Half of the 19th Century
• Agnieszka Fulińska (Krakow), A Reputed Portrait Miniature of the King of Rome and Images of Children from Napoleon’s Entourage
• Marina Vidas (Copenhagen), Portrait Miniatures Set in Jewellery and Objects of Personal Adornment Connected to Queen Louise of Denmark and Her Daughter, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia

17.30  Special Techniques and Materials
• David Hradil, Janka Hradilová, and Olga Trmalová (Prague), Benefits of Non-Invasive Macro X-Ray Fluorescence Scanning for the Analysis of Materials in Portrait Miniatures

S U N D A Y ,  1 1  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 2

9.00  Special Techniques and Materials
• Christine Slottved Kimbriel, Paola Ricciardi, and Flavia Fiorillo (London), Unlocking the English Portrait Miniature: The Materiality of Isaac Oliver’s Oeuvre
• Alan Derbyshire and Lucia Burgio (London), The William Wood Manuscripts

10.00  Miniature Painters
• Martin Spies (Giessen), In Search of Charles Townley, Painter of Miniatures and Engraver to the King of Prussia
• Luise Schreiber Knaus and Peter Knaus (Bodelshausen), The Miniature Painter Jeremiah Meyer: His Life and Career during the Reign of King George III
• Sonja Remensberger (Winterthur), Pierre-Louis Bouvier (1765–1836): Life and Work of a Geneva Miniature Painter whilst Working Abroad
• Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard (Paris), Ambroise Charlemagne Victor Le Chenetier: When a 19th-Century Artist Hides Another One

13.00  Lunch

14.15  Collections of Portrait Miniatures
• Stephen Lloyd (Liverpool), Horace Walpole’s Recently Discovered Plan for Displaying His Miniatures and Enamels in the Cabinet of the Tribuna at Strawberry Hill
• Maria Dunina (Moscow), The Collection of Miniatures of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
• Tatiana Udras (Moscow), Portrait Miniatures of the Romanoff Family in Russian and Foreign Collections
• Cecilia Rönnerstam (Stockholm), On Origins and Originals: The History of a Collection
• Blythe Sobol (Kansas City), An Outsized Passion for Miniatures: The Starr Collection of Portrait Miniatures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Exhibition | Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 28, 2022

From the Tansey Miniatures Foundation:

Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon / Miniaturen der Zeit Napoleons
Tansey Miniatures Foundation, Bomann-Museum, Celle, from 26 June 2020

The Tansey miniatures, now held by the Bomann Museum in Celle, represent one of the most significant collections of European miniature paintings. This exhibition showcases a total of 150 works from the time of Napoleon I (1795–1815). These tiny portraits, which were generally intended for personal use, date from the ‘golden age’ of miniature painting. They exhibit a high degree of artistic skill and refined craftsmanship. Unlike the staged, theatrical portraits of absolutism, now for the first time we see realistic likenesses of people who appear ‘modern’—a gallery of women, men, and children from a period of political upheaval dominated by wars.

The accompanying bilingual catalogue (in German and English) provides comprehensive insight into the art of miniature painting in this magnificent era. Specialists have contributed detailed and richly illustrated introductory essays. This volume joins earlier entries in the series, exploring the collection in key periods and presenting new photographic reproductions of the miniatures at actual size.

Bernd Pappe and Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, with photography by Birgitt Schmedding, Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon in the Tansey Collection (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2022), 452 pages, ISBN: 978-3777436098, €58 / $65.

Newly Discovered Portrait of John Locke on View at London Art Week

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 27, 2022

From the press release via Art Daily:

Miles Wynn Cato | British Art Rediscovered: Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories
London Art Week, 3–8 July 2022

Dr. Alexander Geekie, Portrait of John Locke, 1696, pastel on paper.

As part of London Art Week, British art dealer Miles Wynn Cato will present a remarkable selection of fourteen important discoveries, including a rare portrait of the English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). Unrecorded since 1727, this fine pastel portrait was drawn from life by Dr Alexander Geekie (1655–1727), who was Locke’s doctor and friend, as well as a highly-accomplished amateur artist and art collector.

John Locke is widely acknowledged as one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment and indeed, of all time. Locke’s ideas were also profoundly influential in the founding of the United States. Thomas Jefferson believed Locke to be one of “the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception.”

Archive letters between Locke and Dr Geekie reveal their close mutual regard, and in this superb personal portrayal, Geekie has managed to capture the essence of Locke’s character. The image is inscribed on the reverse, “Mr Lock by A Geekie, 1696,” and it is singled out for special mention in Geekie’s will. This discovery marks a significant addition to the iconography of John Locke. It is also very rare on the market, since almost all the other known portraits of John Locke are owned by public institutions.

This special selling exhibition British Art Rediscovered: Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories is held in conjunction with London Art Week. It will contain fourteen rediscovered paintings and drawings by some of Britain’s most important artists including Sir Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Jones, Angelica Kaufman, Joseph Wright of Derby, and Thomas Gainsborough (with Gainsborough remarkably represented by five rediscovered pictures).

• All of these artworks had been long lost, miscatalogued, or previously unrecorded.
• Each picture is also notable in the artist’s oeuvre for stylistic reasons or because the sitter or scene is exceptionally rare, such as the portrait of John Locke.
• The exhibition will include three paintings by early female artists, including a lost painting by Angelica Kauffman, RA.
• In two instances—Thomas Gainsborough and Thomas Lawrence—the image on view is one of the artist’s earliest known pictures to survive; so these significant new finds will shed fresh light on the early techniques of these outstanding artists.

This is a unique, limited opportunity to see these exciting new discoveries for the first time.

New Book | America’s Philosopher

Posted in books by Editor on June 27, 2022

From The University of Chicago Press:

Claire Rydell Arcenas, America’s Philosopher: John Locke in American Intellectual Life (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2022), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-0226638607, $35.

America’s Philosopher examines how John Locke has been interpreted, reinterpreted, and misinterpreted over three centuries of American history.

The influence of polymath philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) can still be found in a dizzying range of fields, as his writings touch on issues of identity, republicanism, and the nature of knowledge itself. Claire Rydell Arcenas’s new book tells the story of Americans’ longstanding yet ever-mutable obsession with this English thinker’s ideas, a saga whose most recent manifestations have found the so-called Father of Liberalism held up as a right-wing icon.

The first book to detail Locke’s trans-Atlantic influence from the eighteenth century until today, America’s Philosopher shows how and why interpretations of his ideas have captivated Americans in ways few other philosophers—from any nation—ever have. As Arcenas makes clear, each generation has essentially remade Locke in its own image, taking inspiration and transmuting his ideas to suit the needs of the particular historical moment. Drawing from a host of vernacular sources to illuminate Locke’s often contradictory impact on American daily and intellectual life from before the Revolutionary War to the present, Arcenas delivers a pathbreaking work in the history of ideas.

Claire Rydell Arcenas is assistant professor of history at the University of Montana.


1  Locke’s Legacy in Early America
2  Locke’s Authority in the Revolutionary and Founding Eras
3  Problematizing Locke as Exemplar in the Early United States
4  Locke Becomes Historical
5  Making Locke Relevant
6  Locke and the Invention of the American Political Tradition
7  Lockean ‘-isms’

List of Abbreviations

At Bonhams | Preview of Summer Auctions at After Hours Event

Posted in Art Market, lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 26, 2022

Detail of a tray from a Sèvres tea service (déjeuner ‘corbeille losange’) painted by Armand l’aîné, dated 1758 (Five Hundred Years of European Ceramics, Lot 164, estimate £100,000–£150,000).

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From Bonhams and Eventbrite:

After Hours at Bonhams: The Classics
Bonhams, London, New Bond Street, 4 July 2022, 6pm

This summer, explore The Classics, a series of auctions dedicated to the Classic Arts at Bonhams. This season of sales will offer rare and exceptional items across traditional collecting categories, including ceramics, fine glass, works of art, furniture, silver, sculpture, clocks, Old Master paintings, antiquities, books and manuscripts, and more.

Join us After Hours at Bonhams for an evening of art, drinks, food, music, workshops, and conversation set against the backdrop of our forthcoming auctions.

A fine and rare mid-18th-century quarter chiming table clock, chinoiserie decorated on a light yellow ochre ground; Eardley Norton, London, numbered 297 (Fine Clocks, 14 July 2022, Lot 73, estimate: £7,000–10,000).

Programme Highlights
• Join broadcaster and creative director at Glassette Laura Jackson in conversation with The Wallace Collection, celebrating the must-see exhibition Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts, with co-curators Helen Jacobsen and Wolf Burchard
• Live performances by multi-instrumental duo Momento Sounds
• Portraits by artist Michalis Christodoulou
• London Calligraphy pop-up booth

Also Featuring
• Ice-Cream Parlour by Ladurée
• Pay Drinks and Cocktail Bar

On View, The Summer Classics
Old Master Paintings, 6 July 2022
Antiquities, 7 July 2022
500 Years of European Ceramics, 7 July 2022
Decorative Arts through the Ages, 13 July 22
The Grand Tour Sale, 14 July 22
Fine Clocks, 14 July 22

New Books | Recent Biographies

Posted in books by Editor on June 25, 2022

If biographies are your summer thing, some possibilities . . .

Leo Damrosch, Adventurer: The Life and Times of Giacomo Casanova (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022), 432 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0300248289, $35.

A fast-paced narrative about the world-famous libertine Giacomo Casanova, from celebrated biographer Leo Damrosch

The life of the iconic libertine Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798) has never been told in the depth it deserves. An alluring representative of the Enlightenment’s shadowy underside, Casanova was an aspiring priest, an army officer, a fortune teller, a con man, a magus, a violinist, a mathematician, a Masonic master, an entrepreneur, a diplomat, a gambler, a spy—and the first to tell his own story. In his vivid autobiography Histoire de Ma Vie, he recorded at least a hundred and twenty love affairs, as well as dramatic sagas of duels, swindles, arrests, and escapes. He knew kings and an empress, Catherine the Great, and most of the famous writers of the time, including Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.

Drawing on seldom used materials, including the original French and Italian primary sources, and probing deeply into the psychology, self-conceptions, and self-deceptions of one of the world’s most famous con men and seducers, Leo Damrosch offers a gripping, mature, and devastating account of an Enlightenment man, freed from the bounds of moral convictions.

Leo Damrosch is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature Emeritus at Harvard University. His many books include The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age and Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, winner of the National Book Critics Circle award and Pulitzer finalist for biography. He lives in Newton, MA.

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Tristram Hunt, The Radical Potter: The Life and Times of Josiah Wedgwood (Metropolitan Books, 2021), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-1250128348, $30.

From one of Britain’s leading historians and the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, a scintillating biography of Josiah Wedgwood, the celebrated eighteenth-century potter, entrepreneur, and abolitionist

Wedgwood’s pottery, such as his celebrated light-blue jasperware, is famous worldwide. Jane Austen bought it and wrote of it in her novels; Empress Catherine II of Russia ordered hundreds of pieces for her palace; British diplomats hauled it with them on their first-ever mission to Peking, audaciously planning to impress China with their china. But the life of Josiah Wedgwood is far richer than just his accomplishments in ceramics. He was a leader of the Industrial Revolution, a pioneering businessman, a cultural tastemaker, and a tireless scientific experimenter whose inventions made him a fellow of the Royal Society. He was also an ardent abolitionist, whose Emancipation Badge medallion—depicting an enslaved African and inscribed “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?”—became the most popular symbol of the antislavery movement on both sides of the Atlantic. And he did it all in the face of chronic disability and relentless pain: a childhood bout with smallpox eventually led to the amputation of his right leg.

As historian Tristram Hunt puts it in this lively, vivid biography, Wedgwood was the Steve Jobs of the eighteenth century: a difficult, brilliant, creative figure whose personal drive and extraordinary gifts changed the way we work and live. Drawing on a rich array of letters, journals, and historical documents, The Radical Potter brings us the story of a singular man, his dazzling contributions to design and innovation, and his remarkable global impact.

Tristram Hunt is the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum and one of Britain’s best-known historians. His previous books, which include Cities of Empire: The British Colonies and the Creation of the Urban World and Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, have been published in more than a dozen languages. Until taking on the leadership of the V&A, he served as Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent, the home of Wedgwood’s potteries. A senior lecturer in British history at Queen Mary University of London, he appears regularly on BBC radio and television.

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Catherine Ostler, The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Scandalized Eighteenth-Century London (New York: Atria Books, 2022), 432 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1982179731, $30.

As maid of honor to the Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Chudleigh (1721–1788) enjoyed a luxurious life in the inner circle of the Hanoverian court. With her extraordinary style and engaging wit, she both delighted and scandalized the press and public. She would later even inspire William Thackeray when he was writing his classic Vanity Fair, providing the inspiration for the alluring social climber Becky Sharp. But Elizabeth’s real story is more complex and surprising than anything out of fiction. A clandestine, candlelit wedding to the young heir to an earldom, a second marriage to a duke, a lust for diamonds, and an electrifying appearance at a masquerade ball in a gossamer dress—it’s no wonder that Elizabeth’s eventual trial was a sensation. Charged with bigamy, an accusation she vehemently fought against, Elizabeth refused to submit to public humiliation and retire quietly.

Catherine Ostler has been editor-in-chief of Tatler, the Evening Standard (London), and editor of The Times (London) Weekend Edition. She has also written for a wide range of publications, including Vogue, Daily Mail (London), and Newsweek. She read English at Oxford University, specializing in literature.

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Andrew Roberts, The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III (New York: Viking, 2021), 784 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1984879264, $40. In the UK: George III: The Life and Reign of Britain’s Most Misunderstood Monarch.

The last king of America, George III, has been ridiculed as a complete disaster who frittered away the colonies and went mad in his old age. The truth is much more nuanced and fascinating—and will completely change the way readers and historians view his reign and legacy.

Most Americans dismiss George III as a buffoon—a heartless and terrible monarch with few, if any, redeeming qualities. The best-known modern interpretation of him is Jonathan Groff’s preening, spitting, and pompous take in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway masterpiece. But this deeply unflattering characterization is rooted in the prejudiced and brilliantly persuasive opinions of eighteenth-century revolutionaries like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, who needed to make the king appear evil in order to achieve their own political aims. After combing through hundreds of thousands of pages of never-before-published correspondence, award-winning historian Andrew Roberts has uncovered the truth: George III was in fact a wise, humane, and even enlightened monarch who was beset by talented enemies, debilitating mental illness, incompetent ministers, and disastrous luck.

In The Last King of America, Roberts paints a deft and nuanced portrait of the much-maligned monarch and outlines his accomplishments, which have been almost universally forgotten. Two hundred and forty-five years after the end of George III’s American rule, it is time for Americans to look back on their last king with greater understanding: to see him as he was and to come to terms with the last time they were ruled by a monarch.

Andrew Roberts is the bestselling author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny; Leadership in War; The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War; Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945; Waterloo: Napoleon’s Last Gamble; and Napoleon: A Life, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and a finalist for the Plutarch Award. He has won many other prizes, including the Wolfson History Prize and the British Army Military Book of the Year. He is the Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, chair of the judges of the Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize, and a visiting professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London.

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Anna Marie Roos, Martin Folkes (1690–1754): Newtonian, Antiquary, Connoisseur (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 432 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0198830061, $100.

• First full-length biography of this eminent Enlightenment figure, mathematician, and protégé of Isaac Newton
• Contains the first complete analysis and reconstruction of the tragic life and career of Folkes’s wife, Drury Lane star Lucretia Bradshaw
• Features a novel analysis of the prints and drawings of William Hogarth with regard to the Royal Society, freemasonry, and coffeehouse culture

Martin Folkes (1690–1754): Newtonian, Antiquary, Connoisseur is a cultural and intellectual biography of the only President of both the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. Sir Isaac Newton’s protégé, astronomer, mathematician, freemason, art connoisseur, Voltaire’s friend, and Hogarth’s patron, his was an intellectually vibrant world. Folkes was possibly the best-connected natural philosopher and antiquary of his age, an epitome of Enlightenment sociability, and yet he was a surprisingly neglected figure, the long shadow of Newton eclipsing his brilliant disciple.

Anna Marie Roos is a Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Lincoln.

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