Sex, Scandal, and Celebrity in Late Eighteenth-Century England
This book tells the story of the bitter feud between the Duchess of Kingston and the actor, Samuel Foote, which resulted in a pair of scandalous trials in London in the revolutionary year of 1776. Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, the duchess’s state trial for bigamy and Foote’s criminal trial for attempted sodomy engrossed the attention of Londoners, including George III, Parliament, and the nobility. Sex, Scandal, and Celebrity offers specialists and general readers a meticulously researched and dramatic narrative that relates the fortunes and misfortunes of its protagonists and exposes the social and legal hypocrisies about love, sex, and marriage in the age of George III.
“The Production of a Female Pen”: Anna Larpent’s Account of the Duchess of Kingston’s Bigamy Trial of 1776
The Lewis Walpole Library,
On 15 April 1776 the House of Lords convened as a jury in Westminster Hall to try the Duchess of Kingston for bigamy. The Hall was transformed into a theater-in-the-round for the four thousand spectators, making the five-day trial a notorious event of that London season. The diarist Anna Larpent, then an unmarried girl of eighteen, was among the crowd. She wrote thirty-eight pages recording her informed observations with immediacy and in vibrant detail. Recently rediscovered at The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, her manuscript is reproduced here in its entirety. The text is introduced and transcribed by Matthew J. Kinservik and illustrated with works from The Lewis Walpole Library.
Disciplining Satire: The Censorship of Satiric Comedy on the Eighteenth-Century London Stage
Bucknell University Press,
This book examines the effects of the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 on its main target, satiric comedy. The Licensing Act is generally considered to have been a significant and repressive censorship law (it was not repealed until 1968), but very little is known about how it actually worked and what effects it had on satiric comedy. Focusing on the playwriting careers of Henry Fieldling, Samuel Foote, and Charles Macklin, the three most controversial and heavily censored satiric dramatists of the century, Disciplining Satire pays particular attention to what type of satiric expression the law encouraged, not just what it prohibited. As the title of this book suggests, the Licensing Act was a disciplinary instrument that was seldom used to punish playwrights or prohibit plays; rather, the censorship had a more productive effect, training authors to write and audiences to consume a particular type of satiric comedy.