1st Edition

Unrespectable Radicals? Popular Politics in the Age of Reform

Edited By Michael T. Davis, Paul A. Pickering Copyright 2008

    In 1988 Iain McCalman's seminal work, Radical Underworld, unravelled the complex and clandestine revolutionary networks of democrats that operated in London between 1790 and the beginnings of Chartism, to reveal an urban underworld of prophets, infidels, pornographers and rogue preachers where powerful satirical and subversive subcultures were developed. This present volume reflects and builds upon the diversity of McCalman's discoveries, to present fresh insights into the culture and operation of popular politics in the 'age of reform'. It is a coherent and integrated treatment of the subject that offers a window into this 'unrespectable' underworld and questions whether it was a blackguard subculture or a more complex and rich counter-culture with powerful literary, legal and political implications. This book brings together an international team of experienced scholars to explore the concepts and subjects pioneered by McCalman. The volume presents a focused and coherent review of popular politics, from the meeting rooms of a reform society and the theatre stage, to the forum of the courtroom and the depths of prison.

    Contents: Foreword, Ian Donaldson; Preface, Michael T. Davis and Paul A. Pickering; Introduction: history as innovation: the work of Iain McCalman, Paul A. Pickering; Unrespectable and reluctant radical: Benjamin Franklin as a revolutionary, Jack Fruchtman Jr; The mob club? The London Corresponding Society and the politics of civility in the 1790s, Michael T. Davis; The Magician No Conjuror: Robert Merry and the political alchemy of the 1790s, Jon Mee; The theatre of crim.con.: Thomas Erskine, adultery and radical politics in the 1790s, Gillian Russell; Loyalty in an age of conspiracy: the oath-filled civil war in Ireland 1795-1799, Michael Durey; Horrid Sympathy, Jonathan Lamb; Class, gender and British elections, 1794-1818, Anna Clark; The military committee and the united Irishmen, 1798-1803, Ruan O'Donnell; The radical underworld goes colonial: P.F. McCallum's Travels in Trinidad, James Epstein; Islam on the romantic period stage: Hyder Ali, Tippoo Saib and beyond the captivity narrative, David Worrall; The 'she-champion of impiety': a case study of female radicalism, Christina Parolin; Betrayal and exile: a forgotten Chartist experience, Paul A. Pickering; Index.


    Michael T. Davis is Lecturer in Humanities at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Paul A. Pickering is Senior Fellow in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, Australia.

    ’To read this book is to gain a wonderful insight into the breadth and richness of the ’unrespectable’ radical culture.’ History, the Journal of the Historical Association ’... this Festschrift is a worthy testament to the influence of Iain McCalman’s scholarship.’ Journal of British Studies