Entries by Penelope J. Corfield

MONTHLY BLOG 148, Tracking down Eighteenth-Century Optimists and Pessimists in order to write The Georgians

Many people have asked, since the publication of my book on The Georgians1 , why I note on the dust-cover that I am an optimist. There is a reason (apart from the fact that it’s true). But to explain, I need to take a step back. So please bear with me while I tell you first about how I decided to introduce my cast of eighteenth-century Britons…

MONTHLY BLOG 146, Towards Democracy: The Significance of Britain’s Eighteenth-Century Electorate

Democracy is not a flawless form of government. Nor do all democracies survive for all time. Nonetheless, representative democracies uphold the ideal notion of a rational politics, in which all citizens have an equal vote – all exercise their judgment in choosing representatives, who in turn vote to run the country on behalf of their fellow citizens – and all calmly accept the outcome of a majority vote…

MONTHLY BLOG 144, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 12: Celebrating the annual late-November Jonathan Swift Festival in the City of Dublin, where the Anglo-Irish wit, satirist and cleric was born and where he served as Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral from 1713 to 1745.

Where does humour come from? It’s a great question to ask, when contemplating the life and times of the twelfth hero in my year of Georgian commemorations. The Anglo-Irish Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an exceptionally sharp and witty man. Many jokes and wisecracks in circulation throughout the eighteenth century turn out, upon close inspection, to have derived from Swift.

MONTHLY BLOG 143, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 11: Celebrating annual Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement, given annually, from mid-November 1952 onwards, to best performer on Chicago stage

The Chicago acting award for successful women on stage, named after the celebrated Georgian thespian Sarah Siddons (1755-1831),1 had a most unusual start in life. Over two hundred years had passed without any special move to celebrate her undoubted achievements….

MONTHLY BLOG 142, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 10: Annual Commemorations UK ANTI-SLAVERY DAY ON 18 OCTOBER & THE LIFE OF OLAUDAH EQUIANO (c.1745-97)

Georgian Britain is known for its historic participation in the transportation of captive Africans from their homeland to the New World. There the involuntary migrants were detained as slaves. Set to work in the sugar plantations, they were viewed by their ‘masters’ as an ultra-cheap labour-force …

MONTHLY BLOG 141, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 9: Annual Commemorations of the Battle of Trafalgar & the Death of Nelson

Trafalgar! Most Britons know the name. They don’t all know the date of the famous naval battle on 21 October 1805. Or its location, offshore from Cape Trafalgar, on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain – close to the nautical approach into the Straits of Gibraltar. Above all, however, most Britons do know that the British fleet won a famous victory…

MONTHLY BLOG 140, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 8: Annual Memorial Service at Bristol’s Arnos Vale Cemetery, to celebrate the life of India’s remarkable religious, social & educational reformer, Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833)

Eighteenth-century Britain witnessed a veritable ferment of ideas. Religious reformers and traditionalists within Christianity battled with one another, whilst religious sceptics, known as ‘freethinkers’, argued against all forms of revealed religion. It was a time for rethinking and renewal; and not just in Britain…

MONTHLY BLOG 139, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 7: ANNUAL DINNER IN HONOUR OF DR SAMUEL JOHNSON, GREAT LEXICOGRAPHER, MAN OF LETTERS, LITERARY CRITIC, AND WITTY/ PUGNACIOUS CONVERSATIONALIST

It takes more than compiling a famous Dictionary to achieve the celebrity of Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-84). A huge, strapping, ungainly and constantly twitching figure of a man, he startled newcomers on first acquaintance. Yet he had a mesmerising personality, allied to great erudition and unforced eloquence…