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Historical and Literary Chronology

1747-1800

 

Carlo Khan's Triumphal Entry into Leadenhall
"Carlo Khan's Triumphal Entry into Leadenhall" (5 December, 1783), a satirical print attacking Charles James Fox's India Bill. Reproduced from Thomas Wright, Caricature History of the Georges. (London: John Camden Hotten, [1867]) 373. (More . . .)

 

As currently constituted, this page, taken together with the three companion pages covering the years 1625-1658, 1659-1700, and 1701-1746, represents a fairly extensive chronological account of key historical and literary events between the years 1625 and 1800. A few of the historical entries, and more of the literary ones, are "linked" to primary texts in electronic form.

Historical entries are listed, on a year-by-year basis, in a somewhat arbitrary order of "importance". Literary entries are roughly sorted in the following order:

• General literary history, including important births, deaths, and cultural and literary events, especially as these latter relate to censorship or government control of the press.

• The publication of poetry.

• The publication of "prose fiction," somewhat arbitrarily defined, but including novels and "romances."

• The publication of very diverse varieties of prose nonfiction, including history, criticism, philosophy, science, polemic, and periodical literature.

• Performance dates for key plays.

Find the year in which you are interested in the menu below.

Table of Contents

Select a Year:

 


Date
Political and Historical Events
Literary and Cultural Events

1747

• The British score a number of naval victories over the French off the Atlantic coast of France.

 

 


• Birth of Anna Seward.
• Publication of Thomas Gray's Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College and Thomas Warton's Pleasures of Melancholy. Publication of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Six Town Eclogues; With Some Other Poems, with contributions from John Gay.
• Samuel Richardson publishes first volumes of Clarissa.
• Performance of Garrick's Miss in her Teens.

 

1748

• Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle officially ends the War of the Austrian Succession.
• The Bow Street Runners, London's first regular police force, established by Henry Fielding, in his capacity as Chief Magistrate at Bow Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


• Death of James Thomson.
Birth of Jeremy Bentham.
• First three volumes of Robert Dodsley's Collection of Poems, which helps define a new "canon," are published.
Publication of Thomson's mock-Spenserian poem, The Castle of Indolence. Posthumous publication of Mary Leapor's Poems upon Several Occasions (reissued 1751).
• Publication of Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random, and of the first part of John Cleland's quasi-pornographic Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (concluded in 1749).
• Publication of Hume's Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding.
• Parson Yorick dies in May (Tristram Shandy, Vol. I, Ch. 10).

"Alas, poor YORICK!"
"Alas, poor YORICK!" The black page commemorating Parson Yorick's death in volume 1 of Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-67). (More . . .)

 

1749

 

 

 

 

 

 


• Birth of Charlotte Smith.
• Publication of William Collins' On the Death of Thomson and The Passions.
Publication of Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes.
• Publication of Fielding's Tom Jones.
• Publication of Bolingbroke's On the Spirit of Patriotism and The Idea of a Patriot King, and of David Hartley's Observations on Man.
The Monthly Review commences publication.

 

1750

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Publication of Christopher Smart's Eternity of Supreme Being and Thomson's Poems on Several Occasions.
• Publication of Charlotte Lennox's Harriot Stuart.
• Johnson commences publication of The Rambler (to 1752).
• Yorick's sermon on conscience lost, found, and preached (Tristram Shandy, Vol. II, Ch. 17).

 

1751

• Frederick, Prince of Wales, dies.
• Spurred in large measure by the popularity of William Hogarth's satirical engraving Gin Alley, Parliament introduces an effective Gin Act that increases taxation on the beverage, and bans its sale by distillers and shopkeepers; consumption begins to fall dramatically.

William Hogarth William Hogarth. Reproduced from William Makepeace Thackeray, The Four Georges. The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1869).
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• Birth of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Death of Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke.
• Publication of Thomas Gray's Elegy wrote in a Country Churchyard.

Frontispiece to "The History of Pompey the Little" Frontispiece of Coventry's The History of Pompey the Little (1751), reproduced from 1st edition.

• Publication of Henry Fielding's Amelia, Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random, Eliza Haywood's Betsy Thoughtless, and Francis Coventry's The History of Pompey the Little.
• Publication of David Hume's Enquiry concerning Principles of Morals.
1752

• The Gregorian calendar is officially introduced into England.

 

 

 

 

• Birth of Frances Burney and Thomas Chatterton.
• Publication of Christopher Smart's Poems on Several Occasions.
• Publication of Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote.
• Publication of Viscount Bolingbroke's Letters on the Study and Use of History, Lord Kames's Principles of Morality and Natural Religion, and David Hume's Political Discourses.
1753

• The Marriage Act (sometimes known as Lord "Hardwicke's Act") is passed, making only those marriages performed according to full Anglican rights (or by special licence) legal. Previous to this act, consent to marriage in the presence of witnesses, or the officiating of anyone in priest's orders, was all that was required to make a marriage legal. The act was designed to curb clandestine marriages, sometimes of minors, performed by sham priests for a fee in the district of the Fleet Prison (from whence these derived the name "Fleet marriages"). Marriages performed according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church or nonconformist churches remained illegal until 1837.

 

• Births of Elizabeth Inchbald and William Roscoe. Death of George Berkeley.
• Publication of Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity and Christopher Smart's Hilliad.
• Publication of Tobias Smollett's Ferdinand Count Fathom, and of "Volume the Last" of Sarah Fielding's David Simple. Samuel Richardson begins publication of Sir Charles Grandison, the last volume of which is published in 1754.
• Publication of Jane Collier's Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting.
• Publication of Charlotte Lennox's Shakespear Illustrated. Publication of William Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty.
Performance of Edward Moore's The Gamester.
1754

• Henry Pelham dies; his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, becomes Prime Minister.

 


• Birth of George Crabbe. Death of Henry Fielding and Francis Coventry.
• Publication of first volume of David Hume's History of Great Britain, the conclusion to which is published in 1763. Publication of Thomas Warton's Observations on the Faerie Queene.
1755

• French settlers are expelled from Acadia (Nova Scotia) by the English.
• William Pitt the elder dismissed from office by Newcastle for his criticisms of government policy.


• Publication of fourth volume of Robert Dodsley's Collection of Poems. Publication of the important collection of women poets, Poems by Eminent Ladies, including poems by Aphra Behn, Mary Monck, Lady Mary Chudleigh, Mary Barber, and many others.
• Publication of Henry Fielding's Voyage to Lisbon. Publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. Publication of Tobias Smollett's translation of Cervantes' Don Quixote.
1756

• Beginning of the Seven Years War, in which Britain allies itself with Prussia against France and other continental powers.
• Following a series of military failures, Newcastle resigns as Prime Minister in November; William Pit the elder assumes the leadership of the war against France as Secretary of State, and begins to implement the "Maritime Strategy" that will eventually result in the capture of Canada and much of India.
• The "black hole of Calcutta": in protest against East India Company's fortification of Calcutta, the nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Dawlah, attacks and imprisons 146 soldiers of the British garrison under John Holwell; they are confined over the night of 20 to 21 June in a guard room some 18 feet by 15 feet; it is alleged that all but 25 of the soldiers died as a result.

• Birth of William Gifford and of William Godwin. Death of Eliza Haywood.
• Publication of William Mason's Odes.
• Publication of Joseph Warton's Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope. Publication of Edmund Burke's Vindication of Natural Society. The Critical Review commences publication.
• Performance of Samuel Foote's Englishman Returned from Paris.
1757

• Pitt the elder and Newcastle unite in a coalition ministry.
• Calcutta is recaptured by the British. Robert Clive, commander of the forces of the East India Company and their Indian allies, defeats the nawab of Bengal and his French allies at Plassey, despite being vastly outnumbered; Bengal falls under British influence.
• The passing of the Militia Act, enacted in response to the inadequacies of the training of militia, empowers the government to conscript all males of military age for three years service. Only a few battalions are actually raised this way, however.
• London's Bow Street Runners empowered to serve outside of the City limits.

• Death of Mary Barber.
Birth of William Blake. Death of Colley Cibber. William Whitehead is named Poet Laureate.
• Publication of Thomas Gray's Odes ("The Progress of Poesy" and "The Bard"), and of John Dyer's The Fleece.
• Publication of Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful, and David Hume's Four Dissertations. Publication of Tobias Smollett's History of England.
• Performance of John Home's Douglas.
1758

• Cape Breton Island, and its citadel, Louisburg, falls to the British.
• The comet whose appears had been accurately predicted by Edmund Halley returns.

 

 

• Death of John Dyer. Births of Allan Ramsay and Mary Robinson.
• Publication of volumes five and six of Robert Dodsley's Collection of Poems.
• Publication of Charlotte Lennox's Henrietta.
• Samuel Johnson commences The Idler, which he continues until 1760.
• Performance of Robert Dodsley's Cleone.
1759

• "The Year of Victories": British naval forces are victorious against a French fleet, intended to cover a planned invasion of the British Isles, at Quiberon Bay, with the result that the French plans are abandoned. Coalition forces, including the British, defeat the French at Minden. General James Wolfe captures Quebec City from the French on the Plains of Abraham.
• Josiah Wedgwood opens his first pottery business in Burslem, Staffordshire.

 

 

 

• Birth of Robert Burns and of Mary Wollstonecraft. Death of William Collins.
• Publication of Samuel Johnson's Rasselas, and of Sarah Fielding's Countess of Dellwyn.
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's The Present State of Polite Learning and The Bee. Publication of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, and of Edward Young's Conjectures on Original Composition.
• Performance of Charles Macklin's Love la Mode.
• March 9; Tristram writing (Tristram Shandy, Vol. I, Ch. 19).
March 26th: Tristram writing Tristram Shandy "this very rainy day" (Tristam Shandy, Vol. 1, Ch. 21).
1760

• George II dies, and is succeeded by his grandson George III.
• The conquest of Canada is completed by British forces with the capture of Montreal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Birth of William Beckford.
• Publication of James Macpherson's Fragments of Ancient Poetry.
• Laurence Sterne publishes the first two volumes of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.
Laurence Sterne Laurence Sterne. Reproduced from William Makepeace Thackeray, The Four Georges. The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1869).
(More . . .)   

Publication of first volumes of Tobias Smollett's Sir Launcelot Greaves. Publication of Sarah Fielding's Ophelia, and of Charles Johnstone's Chrysal, or the Adventures of a Guinea.
• Publication of George Baron Lyttelton's Dialogues of the Dead. Oliver Goldsmith commences publication of The Chinese Letters, which series concludes in 1761.
• Performances of George Colman's Polly Honeycombe, Samuel Foote's The Minor, and Arthur Murphy's The Way to Keep Him.
• Tristram writing (Tristram Shandy, Vol. IV, Ch. 13).
1761

• Pitt the elder, his war policies rejected by the new King, resigns.

 

 

 

• Death of Samuel Richardson.
• Publication of Charles Churchill's The Rosciad.
• Publication of Frances Sheridan's Sidney Bidulph.
• Performance of Arthur Murphy's All in the Wrong.
• August 10; Tristram writing (Tristram Shandy, Vol. V, Ch. 17).
1762

• Duke of Newcastle is driven from office by George III's favourite, Lord Bute, who becomes Prime Minister.

 

 

 


• Birth of Joanna Baillie. Death of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
• Publication of James Macpherson's Fingal. Publication of Charles Churchill's Night, and of first three parts of The Ghost.
• Publication of Lord Kames' Elements of Criticism.
• Performance of William Whitehead's The School for Lovers, and of Samuel Foote's The Lyar.
1763

• The Seven Years' War ends. On the continent, the conflict concludes with the Treaty of Hubertusburg; the Treaty of Paris ends the colonial war, redefines European possessions around the globe, and establishes Britain as the foremost imperial power in the world: Britain receives Quebec, Cape Breton Island, Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Tobago, Senegal, Florida, and Minorca, as well as settling its predominance on the Indian subcontinent.
• Lord Bute resigns, and is replaced as leading minister by George Grenville.
• John Wilkes is arrested on a general warrant for seditious libel following the publication of issue #45 of his The North Briton, which had alledged that the King's speech proroguing Parliament had contained a lie.

• Death of William Shenstone.
• Publication of Christopher Smart's A Song to David, Charles Churchill's Prophecy of Famine, James Macpherson's Temora, and William Mason's Elegies.
• Publication of Frances Brooke's Lady Julia Mandeville.
• Publication of Hugh Blair's Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian.
• Performances of George Colman's The Deuce Is in Him, Samuel Foote's The Mayor of Garret, Arthur Murphy's The Citizen, and Frances Sheridan's The Discovery.
1764

• Wilkes is expelled from Parliament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


• Birth of Ann Radcliffe. Deaths of Charles Churchill, Robert Dodsley, and William Hogarth.
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's The Traveller, and Charles Churchill's The Candidate. Publication of new edition of William Shenstone's poetry in Works in verse and prose.
• Publication of first volume of Henry Brooke's The Fool of Quality; or, The History of Henry Earl of Moreland, complete in 1770.
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's History of England, in a Series of Letters.
• Performances of Samuel Foote's The Patron, Charles Macklin's The True-born Scotsman, and Arthur Murphy's What We Must All Come to.
1765

• The Stamp Act is introduced by Grenville's administration, imposing a duty on legal documents and newspapers in the American colonies in order to help finance the defence of the colonies, and pay for the Seven Years War. The tax is immensely unpopular in the colonies, where the right of British Parliament to impose taxes on the colonists is questioned.
• Grenville is replaced by the Whig leader Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquis of Rockingham, who becomes First Lord of the Treasury in July.
• James Hargreaves, a weaver and carpenter, invents the "spinning jenny," which mechanizes the textile industry by utilizing eight spindles for spinning, powered by a single large wheel. Hargreaves faces almost immediate opposition, and some violence, from hand-spinners concerned about the effect of his invention upon their livelihood.

• Death of Edward Young and David Mallet.
• Publication of James Beattie's The Judgment of Paris. Publication of Thomas Percy's landmark collection of old ballads, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. Publication of Swift's Works, edited by John Hawkesworth.
• Publication of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. Publication of Samuel Johnson's edition of Shakespeare. Publication of Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England commences.
1766

• Rockingham's administration repeals the unpopular Stamp Act, but passes a Declaratory Act, affirming the right of Parliament to levy taxes from the colonies.
• Rockingham resigns, and is replaced by Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton, who rules with Pitt the elder, newly created Earl of Chatham, and Lord of the Privy Seal.

• Death of Frances Sheridan.
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield. Publication of Tobias Smollett's Travels through France and Italy.
• Performance of The Clandestine Marriage, by George Colman, Senior, and David Garrick.
• August 12; Tristram writing (Tristram Shandy, Vol. IX, Ch. 1).
1767

• The American Import Duties Act, steered through Parliament by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, is imposed upon the American colonies: this imposes duties on lead, glass, paper, painter's colours, and tea and is bitterly opposed by the colonists.

• Birth of Maria Edgeworth.
• Publication of Frances Sheridan's History of Nourjahad.
• Publication of Joseph Priestley's The History and Present State of Electricity.
• Performances of David Garrick's Peep behind the Curtain and Arthur Murphy's The School for Guardians.
1768

• Chatham (Pitt the elder) resigns from office; Grafton assumes full responsibilities as Prime Minister.
• In new Parliamentary elections, the expelled MP John Wilkes is returned in the seat of Middlesex.
• The Royal Academy of Arts is founded to encourage the fine arts, with Joshua Reynolds as its first president.
• James Cook is appointed Captain of the Endeavour, and commences a mission of exploration to the Pacific for members of the Royal Society.

• Death of Laurence Sterne, of Sarah Fielding, and of Joseph Spence.
• Publication of Thomas Gray's Poems.
Publication of Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey.
• First volume of John Wilkes' English Liberty: Being a Collection of Interesting Tracts, is published (the second volume follows in 1760). Publication of James Boswell's An Account of Corsica.
• Performances of Oliver Goldsmith's The Good Natur'd Man, of Arthur Murphy's Zenobia, and of Samuel Foote's The Devil upon Two Sticks.
1769

• Wilkes is expelled from Parliament for a second time.
• Captain Cook's expedition reaches Tahiti.
• James Watt patents his steam engine, and Richard Arkwright patents a water frame (which was likely not his own invention); the latter is a water-powered spinning frame that makes fully-mechanized cotton mills possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• David Garrick organizes the successful and immensely influential "Shakespeare Jubilee" at Stratford-on-Avon.
• Publication of the first of Thomas Chatterton's "Rowley Poems," Elinoure and Juga," in Town and Country Magazine in May. Publication of Richard Hurd's Ancient and Modern Scots Songs.
• Publication of Frances Brooke's Emily Montague (set in Canada), and Tobias Smollett's History of an Atom."
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's Roman History. The first of the "Junius" letters attacking the administration of the Duke of Grafton, and possibly by Sir Philip Francis, is published in the January 21 edition of The Public Advertiser; these continue until January 21, 1772.
• Performances of Richard Cumberland's The Brothers and John Home's The Fatal Discovery.
1770

• Frederick, Lord North's administration assumes power, replacing that of Grafton. In an effort to appease the colonists, North abolishes the duties under the American Import Duties Act, retaining only that on tea. Popular protests in the colonies leads to the "Boston Massacre," in which British troops are provoked into firing upon a crowd of rioters, killing five.


• Birth of William Wordsworth and James Hogg. Mark Akenside dies; Thomas Chatterton commits suicide in London.
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village.
• Publication of Samuel Johnson's The False Alarm, of Edmund Burke's Thoughts on the Present Discontents, and of James Beattie's Essay on Truth.
• Performance of Samuel Foote's The Tame Lover.
1771

• Spain cedes the Falklands Islands to Britain.
• Warren Hastings becomes Governor of Bengal, and begins to implement major administrative and legal reforms to Britain's colonial administration of India.

 

 

 

 


• Birth of Sir Walter Scott. Deaths of Thomas Gray, Tobias Smollett, and Christopher Smart.
• Publication of "Book the First" of James Beattie's The Minstrel; or, The Progress of Genius.
• Publication of Henry Mackenzie's The Man of Feeling and of Tobias Smollett's Humphry Clinker.
• Publication of Charles Burney's Present State of Music in France and Italy, and of Oliver Goldsmith's History of England.
• Performances of Richard Cumberland's The West Indian and Samuel Foote's The Maid of Bath.
1772

• Lord Mansfield, presiding over the case of the escaped slave James Somersett, declares slavery to be illegal in England
• The Royal Marriages Act passed, stipulating that the sovereign's consent was required for a member of the Royal Family to wed, unless over 25 years of age. The act was instigated by George III as a reaction to the marriage of two of his brothers to commoners, without his approval.
• Captain Cook begins his second expedition, during which he explores the coast of the Antarctic.

• Birth of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
• Publication of Thomas Chatterton's The Execution of Sir Charles Bawdin, and of the first book of William Mason's The English Garden. Publication of first edition of Anna Lætitia Barbauld's Poems.
• Performances of Richard Cumberland's The Fashionable Lover and of Arthur Murphy's The Grecian Daughter.
1773

• The Regulating Act is passed, which attempts (unsuccessfully) to extend government control over the East India Company's administration of its territories in India; it made the company-appointed Governor General (at this time, Warren Hastings) responsible to a government-appointed council.
• The "Boston Tea Party" occurs when about 50 American colonists disguised as Native Americans board East India Company ships in Boston harbour and throw some 300 chests of tea into the water. The raid was in protest of the Tea Act, which allowed the Company to dump surplus tea at cheap rates onto the American market.
• Captain Cook's expedition reaches the Antarctic.

• Death of Philip Dormer Stanhope, Fourth Earl of Chesterfield.
• Publication of Robert Ferguson's Poems, and William Mason's An Heroic Epistle o Sir William Chambers.
• Publication of Henry Mackenzie's Man of the World.
• Publication of Charles Burney's Present State of Music in Germany, and of the first volume of James Burnett, Lord Monboddo's The Origin and Progress of Language (completed in 6 volumes in 1792).
• Performances of Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer and Henry Mackenzie's The Prince of Tunis.
1774

• John Wilkes is once more re-elected as member for Middlesex; Parliament relents in the face of popular opinion, and he is allowed to resume his seat.
• The so-called "Intolerable Acts," four separate pieces of legislation, are passed in response to the Boston Tea Party. The Massachusetts Government Act revoked the charter of the colony, while the Administration of Justice Act allowed colonial administrators to return to Britain to be tried for capital offences. The Quartering Act permitted the Governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, to billet troops in colonial homes, and the Boston Port Bill closed Boston harbour down, pending compensation for the owners of the tea destroyed during the "Tea Party."
• Joseph Priestley isolates oxygen for the first time.
• First Congress of the American colonies meets.
• Louis XVI accedes to the throne of France.

• Birth of Robert Southey. Death of Oliver Goldsmith.
• Publication of Oliver Goldsmith's Retaliation: A Poem.
• Publication of Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son. Publication of Samuel Johnson's The Patriot, and Goldsmith's Grecian History and History of the Earth and Nature. Publication of first volume of Thomas Warton's History of Poetry (three volumes of this were published by 1781; part of a fourth volume was published posthumously in 1824).
• Performance of Hugh Kelly's The School for Wives.
1775

• The American Revolution begins with skirmishes between British troops and colonial militia at Lexington and Concord; this is soon followed by a more serious engagement at the Battle of Bunker Hill, during which British forces successfully assault a fortified position overlooking Boston, but at the cost of heavy casualties. George Washington is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Revolutionary forces invade Canada in the autumn.
• James Watt perfects his steam engine.

 

• Births of Jane Austen, Charles Lamb, Walter Savage Landor, and Matthew G. Lewis.
• Publication of George Crabbe's Inebriety.
• Publication of Edmund Burke's Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies. Publication of Samuel Johnson's Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland, and his attack on the American revolutionaries, Taxation No Tyranny.
• Performances of David Garrick's Bon Ton, and three plays by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals, St. Patrick's Day, and The Duenna.

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Date
Political and Historical Events
Literary and Cultural Events

1776

• The Continental Congress issues the Declaration of Independence from Britain.
• General Howe evacuates Boston, but lands on Long Island, and defeats the Continental Army under Washington.
• Captain Cook commences his third voyage, to discover a northwest passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

 

 

 

 


• Death of David Hume.
• Publication of James Beattie's Essays, Jeremy Bentham's Fragment on Government (a response to Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765-69), and Charles Burney's A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present (in four volumes, completed in 1789). Publication of the first volume of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (with further volumes published in 1781 and 1788). Publication of Sir John Hawkin's A General History of the Science and Practice of Music (in 5 volumes). Publication of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (in 2 volumes).
1777

• "Gentleman" John Burgoyne's British army is defeated at Saratoga, and surrenders to the Americans.
• Lord North attempts to resign after the defeat of British forces at Saratoga, but is dissuaded by the King.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Death of Samuel Foote, and of Hugh Kelly.
• Posthumous publication of Thomas Chatterton's pseudo-fifteenth-century forgeries, Poems, supposed to have been written at Bristol, by Thomas Rowley, collected and edited by the Chaucerian scholar Thomas Tyrwhitt, who initially believed them to be genuine. Publication of Thomas Warton's collected Poems.
• Publication of Henry Mackenzie's Julia de Roubign , and of Clara Reeve's influential The Champion of Virtue. A Gothic Story, which was to be reprinted the next year with its more familiar title, The Old English Baron.
• Publication of David Hume's The Life of David Hume, Esq., Written by Himself, and his Two Essays (on the subjects of suicide, and immortality). James Boswell commences his contributions of The Hypochondriack, a series of 70 essays, to The London Magazine (the series ending in 1783). Publication of Maurice Morgann's Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff.
• Performance of Hannah More's Percy, Arthur Murphy's Know your own Mind, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's A Trip to Scarborough and The School for Scandal.
1778

• Encouraged by the American success at Saratoga, France joins the war on the side of the revolutionaries.
• John Horne Tooke is imprisoned for proposing the raising of funds by subscription for the revolting American colonists.
• The Roman Catholic Relief Act is passed, which makes it legal for Roman Catholics to acquire landed property; it is strenuously opposed by many, and helps provoke the Gordon Riots in 1780.
• Chatham (Pitt the elder) dies.

 

 

 

 

• Birth of William Hazlitt.
• Publication of Frances Burney's Evelina, or, A Your Lady's Entrance into the World. Republication of Clara Reeve's The Champion of Virtue, under the title The Old English Baron.
• Publication of Anna Lætitia Barbauld' three-volume Lessons for Children (completed 1779). Publication of John Nichols brief Anecdotes, Biographical and Literary, of the Late Mr. William Bowyer, a volume that was to become the foundation for his later (and very interesting) biographical collection, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century (1782; 1812-16). Publication of Vicesimus Knox's Essays, Moral and Literary (expanded into two volumes in 1779). Publication of Percival Stockdale's An Inquiry into the Nature and Genuine Laws of Poetry.
• Performances of Samuel Foote's The Nabob, and Richard Cumberland's The Battle of Hastings.
1779

• Captain Cook is killed by Hawaiian islanders.
• Samuel Crompton invents the "mule," a spinning jenny powered by water or steam that is capable of producing a fine yet strong thread quickly and economically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birth of Thomas Moore and John Galt. Death of David Garrick and William Warburton.
• Publication of the collaborative volume, Olney Hymns, by William Cowper and John Newton (including "Faith's Review and Expectation," better known as "Amazing Grace")'.
• Appearance of first volumes of Samuel Johnson's Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the Works of the English Poets (i.e., the "Lives of the Poets"), concluded in 10 volumes in 1781. Publication of Edward Gibbon's A Vindication of Some Passages in the XVth and XVIth Chapters of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a response to published criticisms of the first volume of his grand history. Publication of David Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. Publication of first volume of James Burnett, Lord Monboddo's Antient Metaphysics, or the Science of Universals (completed in 1799 in 6 volumes).
• Performance of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "rehearsal" play, The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed.
1780

• In response to George III's handling of, and interference in, the conduct of the Revolutionary War, John Dunning introduces into Parliament a resolution asserting that "the influence of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished." It is passed by the House of Commons.
• Some 300 people are killed, and much property destroyed during the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots; these begin in response to a petition against the Roman Catholic Relief Act presented to Parliament by Lord George Gordon. Gordon was charged with treason for fomenting the riots, but was later acquitted.
• Robert Raikes launches the Sunday School Movement when he opens a school for Sunday instructions in reading and the catechism for illiterate children in Gloucester.

• Death of Sir William Blackstone.
• Publication of George Crabbe's The Candidate. Publication of Thomas Davies' two-volume Memoirs of Garrick, and of John Nichols' Anecdotes of Mr. Hogarth.
1781

• The British Army of General Howe surrenders to the Americans at Yorktown, bringing the Revolutionary War, in effect, to a conclusion with a decisive victory for the former American Colonies.
• A naval battle at Dogger Bank (in the North Sea) between British and Dutch navies is inconclusive.
• Lord North again attempts to resign following the surrender at Yorktown, but is again persuaded by the King to remain in office.

• Publication of George Crabbe's The Library, and of Anna Lætitia Barbauld's Hymns for Children.
• Publication of volumes II and III of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Publication of Vicesimus Knox's Liberal Education, and of the first volume Richard Watson's Chemical Essays (5 volumes, completed in 1787).
• Performance of Samuel Jackson Pratt's The Fair Circassian.

1782

• Lord North resigns, and Rockingham again becomes First Lord of the Treasury. His new administration initiates peace talks with the American revolutionaries. He dies suddenly, however, in July, after only 5 months in office. He is succeeded by William Petty Lansdowne, 2nd Earl of Shelburne.
• Two acts are passed in Parliament to exclude "placemen" — backbenchers who sold their votes to the government for well-paying offices or sinecures. Crewe's Act targets the crown's revenue officers, and prevents them from holding elected office, while Clerk's Act similarly restricted anyone holding a government contract from sitting as an MP. Both acts were guided through Parliament by Edmund Burke.
• Henry Grattan, leader of the patriot party in Ireland, wins legislative independence for the Irish Parliament.
• The British navy wins a decisive engagement against the French at the Battle of the Saints, off the coast of Dominica.

 

• Birth of Susan Ferrier. Death of Henry Home, Lord Kames.
• Publication of William Cowper's Poems in 2 volumes, and of his The History of John Gilpin (in the Public Advertiser). Publication of Thomas Warton's Verses on Sir Joshua Reynolds's Painted Window at New College, Oxford, and of his prose essay, An Enquiry into the Authenticity of the Poems attributed to Rowley, which debunks the authenticity of Thomas Chatterton's Rowley forgeries. Publication of Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians, the first appearance of the characteristic "satiric ode" form of "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot).
• Publication of Frances Burney's Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress.
• Publication of the second volume of Joseph Warton's An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope (volume one having appeared in 1759), and William Gilpin's Observations on the River Wye, and Several Parts of South Wales, etc., Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty. Publication of Joseph Priestley's An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (in 2 volumes).
1783

• The Treaty of Versailles brings the Revolutionary War to an official end; Britain recognizes the independence of the United States of America.
• Lord North is briefly returned to office in coalition with Charles James Fox. Their ministry is shortlived, however, and falls after the failure of a bill to reform the East India Company; the bill itself became the subject of a number of satirical attacks. William Pitt the younger succeeds as Prime Minister (the youngest ever, at the age of 24).
• The Bank of Ireland is formed.

 

 

 

 

• Publication of William Blake's Poetical Sketches, and of George Crabbe's important anti-pastoral The Village; A Poem, in Two Books.
• Publication of Clara Reeve's The Two Mentors. Publication of Thomas Day's "children's book," The History of Sandford and Merton: A Work Intended for the Use of Children (in 3 volumes, completed in 1789).
• Publication of James Beattie's Dissertations Moral and Critical, and of Hugh Blair's very influential and successful Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (in two volumes). Publication of William Beckford's travel diaries as Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents (subsequently suppressed by Beckford, and republished in radically revised form in 1834 as Italy: With Sketches of Spain and Portugal).
1784

• Pitt the younger introduces his own India Act to curtail the power of the East India Company.
• Henry Cort develops the "puddling process," by which impurities are removed from iron, making a less brittle wrought iron possible.

 


• Birth of Leigh Hunt.
Death of Samuel Johnson and Alexander Ross.
• Posthumous publication of William Collin's "An Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland," in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
• Posthumous publication of Bubb Dodington's Diary, with a controversial preface by H. PenruddockWyndham. Publication of William Richardson's Anecdotes of the Russian Empire, and of his Essays on Shakespeare's Dramatic Characters of Richard III, King Lear, and Timon of Athens.
1785

• Warren Hastings quits the post of Governor General of India, returning to England amid allegations of corruption and the arbitrary exercise of illegal power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Birth of Thomas Love Peacock, and of Thomas De Quincey. Death of William Whitehead; Thomas Warton succeeds him as Poet Laureate.
• Publication of William Cowper's The Task. Publication of George Crabbe's The Newspaper, and of the First Canto of the Lousiad (a mock-heroic account of a louse discovered by George III on his plate) by "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot); the poem is completed in 5 cantos by 1795.
• Publication of Horace Walpole's Hieroglyphic Tales. Publication of James Boswell's The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson LL.D., and posthumous publication of Johnson's Prayers and Meditations, edited by George Strahan. Publication of Clara Reeve's The Progress of Romance, a critical dialogue. Publication of Edmund Burke's Speech on the Motion made for Papers Relative to the Nabob of Arcot's Debts.
1786

• Pitt the younger establishes a new independently regulated sinking fund, into which a portion of government revenues are paid in order to reduce the national debt.

 

 

 

 

 

• Publication of Robert Burns' Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, and of Bozzi and Piozzi, or the British Biographers (a satire on the rivalry between Boswell and Hester Piozzi) by "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot).
• Publication of William Beckford's Vathek, and of Charlotte Smith's Romance of Real Life.
• Publication of William Gilpin's Observations on the Mountains and Lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland. Publication of Hester Piozzi's Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson, LL.D., during the Last Twenty Years of his Life.
1787

• William Wilberforce and other members of the Clapham sect (a society of wealthy adherents to Anglican evangelicalism) found the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
• Edmund Cartwright patents his new power loom.

 

 

• Death of Robert Lowth.
• Publication of Instructions to a Celebrated Laureat; alias the Progress of Curiosity; alias a Birthday Ode; alias Mr. Whitbread's Brewhouse, and of the Second Canto of the Lousiad, both by "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot).
• Publication of The Life of Samuel Johnson, by Sir John Hawkins. Publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's Thoughts on the Education of Daughters.
• Performance of George Colman the Younger's Inkle and Yarico.
1788

• King George III suffers his first bout of "madness," attributed to porphyria.
• Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, is impeached for corruption: the trial before the House of Lords lasts seven years, and ends in an acquittal.
• In an effort to maintain the continental balance of power, Britain enters into a Triple Alliance with Prussia and the Netherlands.

 

 

 

 


• Birth of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Death of Thomas Sheridan, of Thomas Amory, and of Charles Wesley.
• Posthumous publication of William Collins' Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland.
• Publication of Charlotte Smith's Emmeline.
• Publication of volumes IV, V, and VI of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, completing the work. Publication of Hannah More's Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great. Publication of Richard Graves' Recollections of Some Particulars in the Life of the Late William Shenstone, Esq., and of Vicesimus Knox's Winter Evenings, or Lucubrations on Life and Letters.
1789

• The French Revolution breaks out. In Britain, reaction is initially mixed, but most liberal or progressive observers support the cause of the revolutionaries.
• William Wilberforce introduces to Parliament his first resolution to abolish the slave trade; it fails to pass.

 

 

 

 

 

• Death of Frances Brooke, of John Cleland, and of Sir John Hawkins.
• Publication of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and The Book of Thel, and of Erasmus Darwin's The Loves of the Plants (republished in 1791 as Part II of The Botanic Garden).
• Publication of Ann Radcliffe's early gothic work, The Castles of Aithlin and Dunbayne.
Publication of Jeremy Bentham's Principles of Moral and Legislation, and of William Gilpin's Observations on the Highlands of Scotland. Publication of Hester Piozzi's Observations in a Journey through France, Italy and Germany.
1790

• Lord North succeeds to the title of 2nd Earl of Guildford.

 

 

 

• Deaths of Adam Smith and Thomas Warton.
• Publication of William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and of Joanna Baillie's Fugitive Pieces.
• Publication of Ann Radcliffe's A Sicilian Romance, and Charlotte Smith's Ethelinde.
• Publication of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.
1791

• The Constitutional Act creates Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec respectively).
• The Society of United Irishmen is founded by Wolfe Tone and other protestant Irish radicals who are inspired by the French Revolution: they seek to create an independent republican Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Publication of William Cowper's translations of Iliad and Odyssey. Publication of the Third Canto of the Lousiad by "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot), and of Erasmus Darwin's The Botanic Garden (incorporating as Part I his The Loves of the Plants). Publication of Anna Lætitia Barbauld's anti-slavery work, An Epistle to William Wilberforce.
• Publication of Elizabeth Inchbald's A Simple Story, of Charlotte Smith's Celestina, and of Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest.
• Publication of James Boswell's Life of Johnson, and of Edmond Malone's important edition of Shakespeare. Publication of Edmund Burke's A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, and his An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs. Thomas Paine responds to Burke's characterizations of the French Revolution with the first part of The Rights of Man (second part published in 1792).
1792

• Thomas Hardy, a London shoemaker, founds the Corresponding Society, a radical political organization that aimed at achieving universal adult male suffrage and annual parliaments. Chapters of the organization begin to spring up all over Britain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


• Birth of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Death of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
• Publication of the Fourth Canto of the Lousiad by "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot), and of Erasmus Darwin's The Economy of Vegetation. Publication of William Blake's Song of Liberty, and of Samuel Rogers' The Pleasures of Memory. Publication, in April, of William Cowper's anti-slavery poem, Sonnet to William Wilberforce, Esq., in the Northampton Mercury.
• Publication of Robert Bage's Man as He Is, Thomas Holcroft's Anna St. Ives, and Charlotte Smith's Desmond.
• Publication of Edmund Burke's Collected Works, and of the second part of Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man. Publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women, and of William Gilpin's Essays on Picturesque Beauty. Publication of William Bligh's Voyage to the South Seas in the Bounty.
• Performance of Thomas Holcroft's The Road to Ruin.
1793

• The French Revolutionary War begins with the invasion of the Austrian Netherlands by the armies of the Republic, and the subsequent declaration of war by France on Britain on 1 February. The Duke of York leads a British expeditionary force into Flanders, but it achieves little. In August, Admiral Samuel Hood occupies Toulon with an allied force. Naval operations begin against the French West Indies.
• The Corresponding Society holds a meeting in Edinburgh, where plans are drawn up for underground operations; the authorities respond by condemning many of the organization's leaders to transportation.

• Birth of John Clare.
• Publication of William Blake's The Gates of Paradise, A Vision of the Daughters of Albion, and America. Publication of William Wordsworth's An Evening Walk, and Descriptive Sketches.
• Publication of Charlotte Smith's The Old Manor House.
• Publication of William Godwin's An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Political Justice. Publication of Hannah More's Village Politics, by Will Chip.
1794

• In a naval engagement that becomes known as the "Glorious First of June," Admiral Hood defeats a French convoy in the Mediterranean, capturing six ships and sinking a seventh.
• The British seize Corsica from the French.
• Thomas Hardy and others associated with the Corresponding Society, including John Horne Tooke, are charged with treason, but are acquitted.

 

 

 

• Death of Edward Gibbon. Drury Lane Theatre is rebuilt.
• Publication of William Blake's Europe, a Prophecy, The First Book of Urizen, and Songs of Innocence and Experience. Publication of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Monody on Chatterton. Publication of the Collected Works of "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot), and of William Gifford's social satire He Baviad.
• Publication of William Godwin's Caleb Williams, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, and Thomas Holcroft's The Banished Man.
• Publication of the first part of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason (second part published in 1795).
1795

• The Duke of York's expeditionary force is evacuated from Bremen after an unsuccessful campaign on the continent.
• The first coalition of allies against the French begins to disintegrate: however, the British acquire a great many Dutch overseas possessions, including Pondicherry, Trincomalee, Ceylon, Malacca, Amboyna, and Banda.
• There is an invasion scare, as the armies of the French Republic begin to achieve dominance in Western Europe.
• The trial of Warren Hastings before the House of Lords ends with an acquittal.
• Wolfe Tone is banished from Ireland for his seditious activities, and flees to France, where he begins to organize an invasion force.


• Birth of John Keats and Thomas Carlyle. Death of James Boswell.
• Publication of William Blake's Book of Los, Book of Ahania, and Song of Los. Publication of William Gifford's satire The Maeviad. Publication of a collected Poems by Walter Savage Landor, which was later suppressed by the author himself. Publication of the Fifth Canto of the Lousiad by "Peter Pindar" (John Wolcot).
• Publication of Charlotte Smith's Montalbert.
• Publication of Ann Radcliffe's travelogue A Journey through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany. Publication of the second part of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason. Hannah More commences publication of her Cheap Repository Tracts (to 1798).
1796

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Death of Robert Burns and James Macpherson.
• Publication of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects and Ode on the Departing Year. Publication of Robert Southey's Joan of Arc.
• Publication of Matthew G. Lewis' sensational gothic novel, The Monk. Publication of Frances Burney's Camilla, Charlotte Smith's Marchmont, Robert Bage's Hempstrong, and Maria Edgeworth's work for children, The Parent's Assistant.
• Publication of Edmund Burke's Letter to a Noble Lord, and first two parts of Letters on a Regicide Peace. Publication of William Cobbett's satirical character studies, Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine. Publication of the antiquarian Joseph Strutt's Dresses and Habits of the English People commences (to 1799).
1797

• In April, the sailors of the British Channel fleet mutiny against the terrible conditions under which they were forced to live; most of their demands are met. As a result of this success, the British North Sea Fleet, based at Nore in the Thames estuary, mutiny as well. The mutineers hold out for four weeks, but this time the government reacts with severity, and they are forced to surrender. Their leader, Richard Parker, is subsequently hanged.
• Two important British naval victories frustrate French invasion plans. At Cape St. Vincent in February, Sir John Jervis defeated a much larger Spanish fleet, while October saw the defeat of a Dutch invasion fleet by Adam Duncan at Camperdown.
• An invasion force organized by Wolfe Tone fails to land, as planned, in Ireland, when it is dispersed by a storm at sea.

• Deaths of Horace Walpole, Edmund Burke, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
• Publication of Robert Southey's Poems, and a second edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects, with addition of poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd. William Blake produces illustrations for Edward Young's Night Thoughts.
• Publication of Ann Radcliffe's The Italian.
• Publication of Edmund Burke's Thoughts on French Affairs, the third Letter on a Regicide Peace, and Letter on Affairs in Ireland. Publication of Robert Southey's Letters Written in Spain and Portugal, and of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, edited by Edmond Malone.
1798

• A serious rebellion breaks out in Ireland as republican forces, led by the Society of United Irishmen, look to France for aid. Threatened by government informers, the rebels choose not to await a planned French invasion of Ireland, but rise in May, largely in Ulster and Wexford. The rebellion is crushed before French help arrives.
• A second anti-French coalition, consisting of Britain, Russia, Turkey, Naples, Portugal and Austria, begins to take shape.
• Horatio Nelson attacks the French fleet in harbour in Aboukir Bay on 1 August: this "Battle of the Nile" sees the destruction of nearly the entire French fleet stationed in Egypt, and effectively nullifies Napoleon's success on land in Egypt.
• The British capture Minorca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Joint publication of Lyrical Ballads, by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Coleridge additionally publishes Fears in Solitude, France, an Ode, and Frost at Midnight. Publication of William Cowper's On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture, and The Dog and the Water-lily. Publication of the collaborative volume Blank Verse, by Charles Lloyd and Charles Lamb. Publication of volume 1 of Joanna Baillie's Plays on the Passions (volume 2 published in 1802, and volume 3 in 1812). Publication of Robert Southey's "The Battle of Blenheim," in The Morning Post (9 August) and "The Well of St. Keyne," in The Morning Post (3 December).
• Publication of Charlotte Smith's The Young Philosopher, Charles Lamb's The Tale of Rosamund Gray, and Charles Lloyd's satire on S. T. Coleridge, Edmund Oliver.
• Publication of Thomas Malthus' Principles of Population and William Coxe's Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole. Publication of William Godwin's Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft, and William Gilpin's Picturesque Remarks on the West of England. Publication of Practical Education, edited by Maria Edgeworth and her father.
1799

• In October, an allied invasion of Holland fails. The allies, however, score some successes in the Italian campaign against the French.
• The Corresponding Society is banned.
• The first Combination Act is passed. Essentially an anti-trade union bill, this act probibits the "combining" of two or more workers for the purpose of obtaining better wages, working conditions, etc.
• Income tax, at the rate of two shillings to the pound, is levied for the first time, as a "temporary" measure to help finance the war against the French.
• Social reformer Robert Owen becomes manager at the textile mills at New Lanark, where he begins to implement reforms aimed at establishing a humane and comfortable work environment for his employees.
• Napoleon's forces lay siege to the Turkish city of Acre in Palestine; following a bombardment lasting 61 days, British warships force the French to abandon the siege.

• Publication of Matthew G. Lewis' verse collection Tales of Terror. Publication of Robert Southey's "The Old Man's Complaints. And How He Gained Them," in The Morning Post (17 January) and "God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop," in The Morning Post (27 November).
• Publication of William Godwin's St. Leon.
• Performance of Matthew G. Lewis' The East Indian (a comedy).
1800

• In response to the rebellion of 1798, Pitt the younger introduces the Act of Union, uniting Ireland with England and Scotland. The act passes, and comes into effect the following year.
• The Census Act is passed; a census of the population is henceforth taken every 10 years.
• Napoleon's brilliant Italian campaign succeeds in regaining ground lost to the allies in the previous year.
• Britain takes Malta.
• The second Combination Act is passed, aimed, as was the first, against the formation of any association of workers for the purposes of obtaining concessions from employers.

 

• Deaths of William Cowper, Hugh Blair, Mary Robinson, and Joseph Warton.
• Republication of Lyrical Ballads, by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with revised preface. Publication of Coleridge's Poems, and of William Gifford's Epistle to Peter Pindar.
• Publication of Maria Edgeworth's Irish satire, Castle Rackrent.
• Publication of Charles Dibdin's History of the English Stage.

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