The Diaries of John Wilkes, 1770-1797

October 2014
383 pages
24.4x15 cm
London Record Society
ISBN: 9780900952548
Format: Hardback
London Record Society
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037050

The Diaries of John Wilkes, 1770-1797

Edited by Robin Eagles

The diaries of an MP and Lord Mayor in the eighteenth century shed light on contemporary political life.
John Wilkes (1725-1797) was one of the most intriguing characters in the eighteenth-century political world - if one with a mixed and colourful reputation. From relatively obscure beginnings, he rose to be a significant force for change in journalism and politics, first as a Whig MP for Aylesbury, later for Middlesex. Having gained attention as proprietor of the opposition paper, the North Briton, he underwent a remarkable fall from grace, eventually being imprisoned for libel. After his release he was the focus of various reform movements. He cultivated the City of London to further his ends and in 1774 was elected Lord Mayor. Towards the end of his life he co-operated with the Pitt administration and by the close was considered almost "respectable".
His diaries chart his daily activities from his release from prison in 1770 to a few weeks before his death. They reveal a busy public figure and his habitual haunts in London, Bath and the Isle of Wight; but also, although he was on close terms with some of the most celebrated figures of his day, such as Boswell, Garrick, Reynolds and the cross-dressing Chevalier d'Eon, they show a private man, never happier than in the company of his beloved daughter, Polly.
The diaries themselves are presented here with introduction and full explanatory notes.

Dr Robin Eagles is a Senior Research Fellow at the History of Parliament.

Table of Contents

John Wilkes - a chronology
The diaries 1770-1797
Appendix 1 - 1780 fragments relating to the Gordon Riots
Appendix 2 - Biographical listing of principal characters in the diary


Alongside those interested in Wilkes's personal life and later political career, therefore, the diary will also be of interest to historians of eateries and eating habits. HISTORY

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