John Wilkes: The Lives of a Libertine
John Wilkes remains one of the most colourful and intriguing characters of eighteenth-century Britain. Born in 1725, the son of a prosperous London distiller, he was given the classical education of a gentleman, before entering politics as a Whig. Finding his party in opposition following the accession of George III in 1760 he took up his pen with sensational effect, and made a career out of excoriating the new administration and promoting the Whig interest. His charismatic style and vicious wit soon ensured that he became a figurehead for the radical cause, earning him many admirers and many enemies. Amongst the latter were the king, and the artist William Hogarth who famously depicted Wilkes as a grinning, squint-eyed, pug-nosed agent of misrule. Whilst Wilkes's political career has been much explored, particularly the period between 1763 and 1774, much less has been written about his remarkable private life. This biography provides a more comprehensive examination of Wilkes throughout his long life than has hitherto been available. Taking a thematic, rather than chronological approach it is divided into six main chapters covering family, ambition, sex, religion, class and money, which allows a much more rounded picture of Wilkes to emerge. In so doing it provides a fascinating insight, not only into one of the most intriguing characters of the Georgian period, but also into wider eighteenth-century British society and its shifting attitudes to morality, politics and gender.
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April aristocratic attack attitude Aylesbury Barnard Baxter became BL Add blasphemy Bleackley Buckinghamshire Burke Bute Cambridge career Catharine Macaulay Charles Churchill Chatham Church City claimed classical conduct Corradini Court d'Eon d'Holbach Dashwood debt debtors declared deism deist domestic duel Duke of Grafton Eighteenth Eighteenth-Century election electors England English Essay on Woman evidence favour French friendship Gender gentleman George Grenville Guildhall honour Horace Walpole House of Commons Ibid James Boswell John Wilkes June Kidgell King's Bench Prison later Letters to Daughter libertine Library Medmenham Middlesex moral Newcastle North Briton Oxford Papers Parliamentary parody patriotism Pitt political Polly popular Public Advertiser radical rake reform religion religious Rockingham Sandwich Sarah Wilkes satirical sexual social Society Society of Dilettanti sought St James's Chronicle Talbot Thomas virtue vols London Walpole Warburton Whig Wilkes and Potter Wilkes Correspondence Wilkes MSS Wilkes's Wilkite William William Warburton wrote York