Book review: James Grande, John Stevenson and Richard Thomas (eds.), The Opinions of William Cobbett

Gardner, John (2014) Book review: James Grande, John Stevenson and Richard Thomas (eds.), The Opinions of William Cobbett. BARS Review, 44. ISSN 0964-2447

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‘Put me on a gridiron and broil me alive if I am wrong’ proclaims the masthead of William Cobbett’s post-1819 Political Register, predicting that paper money would lead to disaster. The statement is also the motto of the William Cobbett Society that held an event at Nuffield College to celebrate his 250 birthday in 2013. But, as this outstanding book demonstrates, Cobbett was a man who changed his mind on matters as various as reform, war, and Catholicism in the course of five decades and over 20 million published words. This accessible and brilliantly chosen selection, which is interspersed with judicious directive comments, is the first collection of Cobbett’s writings in forty years, following previous collections by Richard Ingrams, who writes the Foreword to this book, John Derry, G.D.H. and M.I. Cole, and Cobbett’s children who published selections soon after he died in 1835. Reformer, agriculturalist, historian, politician, journalist, soldier, convict, speechwriter to Queen Caroline, and MP, Cobbett was a remarkable figure. A.J.P. Taylor thought him second only to Samuel Johnson as ‘greatest Englishman’. Many admired him, including Arnold, Morris and Ruskin. Samuel Bamford wrote: ‘The writings of William Cobbett suddenly became of great authority; they were read on nearly every cottage hearth’. Shelley and Blake, barely read in their lifetime, are taught, but Cobbett is denied the visibility of other major figures of the period. This book is an excellent guide as to how a student or teacher might start with Cobbett and best discover his work.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Review by John Gardner (Anglia Ruskin University) of James Grande, John Stevenson and Richard Thomas, eds., The Opinions of William Cobbett. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2013. Pp. 214 + x. £25. ISBN 9781409464327.
Keywords: Book review, Literature
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2014 13:51
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:16

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