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Palgrave Macmillan

William Cobbett, the Press and Rural England

Radicalism and the Fourth Estate, 1792-1835

ISBN 9781137380074
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture

William Cobbett, the Press and Rural England offers a thorough re-appraisal of the work of William Cobbett (1763-1835), examining his pioneering journalism, identification with rural England and engagement with contemporary debates. It offers a new interpretation of Cobbett as a Burkean radical, whose work cuts across the 'revolution controversy' of the 1790s and combines Tom Paine's common sense and transatlantic radicalism with Edmund Burke's emphasis on tradition, patriotism and the domestic affections. To Hazlitt, Cobbett came to represent 'a kind of fourth estate in the politics of the country', becoming the virtual embodiment of both rural England and the campaign for parliamentary reform. This study draws on Cobbett's published writings and unpublished correspondence to show how he achieved this status. Individual chapters focus on his writings as Peter Porcupine, publication of parliamentary debates, imprisonment in Newgate, exile on Long Island, role in the Queen Caroline affair, Rural Rides, his prosecution after the Captain Swing riots and his wide-ranging legacies.

James Grande is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at King's College London, UK. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Oxford and worked as a research assistant on the digital edition of William Godwin's diary (2010). He is one of the editors of The Opinions of William Cobbett (2013).

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Digging up the 1790s
1. From the Soldier's Friend to Peter Porcupine
2. William Windham and the Hampshire Hog
3. Prison, Paper Money and Cobbett's 'Twopenny Trash'
4. Long Island Pastoral
5. Cobbett and Queen Caroline
6. Rural Rides and the 1820s
7. 'Rural War' and the July Revolution
Postscript: Cobbett's Legacies


"William Cobbett, the Press and Rural England is a compelling and passionate narrative history of particular dramatic episodes in Cobbett's radical career—that rather rare thing, an academic page-turner. This is not only because the episodes themselves were so extraordinary, and Cobbett's radical personality, as manifested in his writings, so powerful, but also because Grande writes with real fluency and passionate flair. It is also the case that, as well as an intriguing biography-in-episodes, the book is fully informed by both literary critical and Marxist historical research into Cobbett and early 19th century radicalism." — Tim Fulford, De Montfort University, UK
"Grande... sees borad coherence in Cobbett's career, and is as interested in continuity as he is in contradiction. Such an approach runs the risk of smoothing complexity too absolutely; he avoids this by rooting his argument in sensitive readings of Cobbett's private correspondence as well as his published work. The archival basis of the book allows Grande to chart the connections between Cobbett's disparate body of work in ways which are both imaginative and illuminating." — Daisy Hay, Times Literary Supplement
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