Richard Boston

A Libertine & Liberty

John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty

By

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

    • He has 'raised his country’s international influence to unprecedented heights, while at the same time jailing hundr… ,
    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,