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parsed(2024-05-14) - pubdate: 2024-05-14
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Dinner with Joseph Johnson

Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age

May 14, 2024 | Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780691243986
$34.95
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Description

A fascinating portrait of a radical age through the writers associated with a London publisher and bookseller--from William Wordsworth and Mary Wollstonecraft to Benjamin Franklin

Once a week, in late eighteenth-century London, writers of contrasting politics and personalities gathered around a dining table. The veal and boiled vegetables may have been unappetising but the company was convivial and the conversation brilliant and unpredictable. The host was Joseph Johnson, publisher and bookseller: a man at the heart of literary life. In this book, Daisy Hay paints a remarkable portrait of a revolutionary age through the connected stories of the men and women who wrote it into being, and whose ideas still influence us today.

Johnson's years as a publisher, 1760 to 1809, witnessed profound political, social, cultural and religious changes--from the American and French revolutions to birth of the Romantic age--and many of his dinner guests and authors were at the center of events. The shifting constellation of extraordinary people at Johnson's table included William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Benjamin Franklin, the scientist Joseph Priestly and the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli, as well as a group of extraordinary women--Mary Wollstonecraft, the novelist Maria Edgeworth, and the poet Anna Barbauld. These figures pioneered revolutions in science and medicine, proclaimed the rights of women and children and charted the evolution of Britain's relationship with America and Europe. As external forces conspired to silence their voices, Johnson made them heard by continuing to publish them, just as his table gave them refuge.

A rich work of biography and cultural history, Dinner with Joseph Johnson is an entertaining and enlightening story of a group of people who left an indelible mark on the modern age.

We're sorry, but this item is not eligible for a Reader Reward discount.

About this Author

Daisy Hay is an award-winning biographer whose previous books include Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives and Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli: A Strange Romance. She is professor of English literature and life writing at the University of Exeter.

ISBN: 9780691243986
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 536
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 2024-05-14

Reviews

"Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction"

"Enthralling. . . . Dinner with Joseph Johnson is more than a richly detailed character profile: It also comprises a sharply realized group portrait of those whom Johnson wined, dined and gave voice to."---Malcolm Forbes, Wall Street Journal

"[A] compelling and magnificent study. . . . Dinner with Joseph Johnson is an admirable achievement of biography and humanistic imagination."---Kathryn Sutherland, Times Literary Supplement

"Hay has produced an enlightening biography. Her detailed portrait of Johnson illuminates the considerable risks faced by a London publisher bold enough to defy the repressive laws issued by the nervous British government at a time when revolution seemed worryingly likely to spread from France to England."---Miranda Seymour, New York Review of Books

"Hugely engrossing. . . . An exciting blend of ideas and personalities."---John Carey, Sunday Times

"Dinner with Joseph Johnson evokes the noise and excitement of an age characterized by the unceasing hum of literary debate. . . . A fitting reflection of the period that Hay describes: a time when the written word could make someone's name--or cost them their liberty."---Francesca Peacock, Financial Times

"Hay's meticulously researched biography, rich in period and personal detail, sheds light on both Johnson the man and the vibrant cultural world he inhabited."---Hannah Beckerman, The Guardian

"Hay makes the most of a vivid period in English and especially London history. Her carefully poised study puts Johnson, today an obscure figure, back at the center of his circle."---Rosemary Hill, London Review of Books

"[A] delightful book."---Emma Duncan, The Times

"Dinner with Joseph Johnson is a portrait of literary ferment. . . . [It] reminds us of the excitement of a period in which inherited orthodoxies were forensically scrutinised and found lacking. And it offers us pause for thought."---Matthew Dennison, The Telegraph

"As a bookseller, Johnson's lists ranged widely, covering topics such as cookery, gardening, education and theology alongside the bread-and-butter of politics and poetry. Hay's book follows Johnson's lead. The result is equal parts panoramic and kaleidoscopic, marching along some of the less-trod paths of the Romantic era."---Joseph Hone, History Today

"[An] illuminating account. . . . Hay's is a fascinating take on the intellectual and political development of the time. Fans of literary history will relish this opportunity to pull up a seat at Johnson's table."

"Dinner with Joseph Johnson is a beautifully packaged, skillfully written and detailed book that finally gives this gentle revolutionary the recognition he deserves."---Jacqueline Riding, Country Life

"A panorama of the intellectual life of a Revolutionary age. . . . This is a perfect bedside book."

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