Dinner with Joseph Johnson

Episode 43,   Oct 15, 2022, 07:30 AM

Bookseller, publisher, Dissenter and dinner-party host, Joseph Johnson was a great enabler in the late 18th-century literary landscape . . .

Daisy Hay is the author of Dinner with Joseph Johnson: Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age and Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Exeter, and Kathryn Sutherland is the author of Why Modern Manuscript Matters and Senior Research Fellow in English at the University of Oxford. Together they join the Slightly Foxed editors to discuss Joseph Johnson’s life and work at St Paul’s Churchyard, the heart of England’s book trade since medieval times.  

We listen to the conversation around Johnson’s dining-table as Coleridge and Wordsworth, Joseph Priestley and Benjamin Franklin, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Blake debate the great issues of the day. And we watch as Johnson embarks on a career that will become the foundation stone of modern publishing. We hear how he takes on Olaudah Equiano’s memoir of enslavement and champions Anna Barbauld’s books for children, how he argues with William Cowper over copyright and how he falls foul of bookshop spies and is sent to prison. From Johnson’s St Paul’s we then travel to Mayfair, where John Murray II is hosting literary salons with Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott, and taking a chance on Jane Austen. To complete our tour, we glimpse the anatomy experiments in the basement of Benjamin Franklin’s house by the Strand.

Our round-up of book recommendations includes Konstantin Paustovsky’s The Story of a Life which begins in Ukraine, Winifred Holtby’s conversations with Wollstonecraft and Woolf, a fresh look at Jane Austen’s Emma and an evocation of the Aldeburgh coast as we visit Ronald Blythe for tea.

Books Mentioned
We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

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Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable