Richard Boston

A Libertine & Liberty

John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty


Yale University Press 496pp £20 order from our bookshop

In Newcastle one day in 1768 forty-five gentlemen sat down at forty-five minutes past one with forty-five gills of wine and forty-five new-laid eggs. At forty-five minutes past two they began a meal of five courses, each of which had nine dishes, making forty-five. The sirloin of beef weighed forty-five pounds… and so on. At the same time in markets throughout the country the number forty-five appeared on such objects for sale as buttons, buckles, brooches, snuff-boxes and mugs. The cause of all this excitement was No 45 of the North Briton, the editor and author of which, John Wilkes MP, had been sent to the Tower. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The lack of evidence ... of any definitive brain pathology in cases of schizophrenia and the absence of any reliab… ,
    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,