Georgian society had become rather infamous for its riotous nature, lampooned at the time by Hogarth’s Rakes Progress, and reaching its peak during the Regency and reign of George IV. This collection of stories from that period gives us a good idea of the sort of things that attracted public attention at the time, and thus set the tone for the period.
The subtitle is a little misleading – most definitions of the ‘long eighteenth century’ include part of the late 18th century, normally starting with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 or even the Restoration of 1660. Here we start with the arrival of George I in 1714 and end with the death of George IV in 1830 (thus excluding the short range of William IV).
A majority of the stories focus on interesting women, from high ranking aristocrats to infamous fraudsters. Many of these look at people who had brief bursts of fame and prosperity, before fading into obscure poverty – this would include Alicia Massingham, a famous jockey or Sally Wallen, a bonesetter who made her name at Epsom. However there are also examples of women who were able to carve a permanent place for themselves, including several of the ‘Polly Peerage’, a series of actresses who played one of the leads in The Beggar’s Opera, and attracted the attention of a series of members of the aristocracy, with one ending up as Duchess of Bolton (after coming to a rather practical arrangement with her husband which guaranteed her an income even if they fell out!).
Although this book has no direct relevance to military history, it is a very entertaining read, and gives some idea of the society that was able to fight a series of near constant wars, peaking with the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
1 – Doggett’s Coat and Badge
2 – The Venus of Luxembourg
3 – The Velvet Coffee-Woman
4 – Crazy Sally: A Female Bonesetter
5 – The Polly Peerage
6 – Cecil Court on Fire
7 – Jenny Cameron: The Jacobite Mystery of a Female Imposter
8 – The Queen’s Ass
9 – Lady Wilbrahammon
10 – The Queen of Smugglers
11 – Circumnavigating Sir Joseph Bank’s Women
12 – Mrs Hartley and the ‘Impudent Puppies’
13 – Emily Warren, an ‘infamous and notoriously abandoned woman’
14 – The Astronomer William Herschel and his Sister Caroline, a ‘Heavenly Hausfrau’
15 – The Fabously Famous Anna Maria Crouch
16 – Up, Up and Away
17 – French Revolution: The Flight to Varennes
18 – Brighton’s Travelling Windmill
19 – To Kill the King: Frith the Madman
20 – The Norwich Nymph: A Female Jockey
21 – Martha Udny, aka ‘Mrs Nibs’
22 – King of the Resurection Men
23 – Caroline Crachami: The Sicilian Fairy
24 – The Dramatic Life of Jonathan Martin, tanner
25 – End of an Era
Author: Major, Joanne and Sarah Murden
Publisher: Pen & Sword History