The North in the Long Eighteenth Century: Upcoming Conference

The poster-programme for the upcoming ‘North in the Long Eighteenth Century’ conference is now available to view online: Conference Poster-Programme. The event, which will also be the tenth annual conference to be held by the North East Forum in Eighteenth Century and Romantic Studies, will be taking place in Newcastle on 19th September 2014. 

A map of Newcastle from the *long* eighteenth century.

A map of Newcastle from the *long* eighteenth century.

Having spent the past three years studying a smugly metropolitan paper I am very much looking forward to contemplating and troubling the extent to which a predominantly London-centric body of long eighteenth-century scholarship has obscured the significance of provincial and other urban and cultural spaces during this period. I also look forward to using this event to finally share one of the most remarkable and entertaining texts that I discovered during the course of my thesis: Lancelot Lackrent’s blissfully irreverent Yorkshire Freeholder:

'The Yorkshire Freeholder' (York, 1780)

‘The Yorkshire Freeholder’ (York, 1780)

Writing the North in the Eighteenth-Century Periodical: The case of The Yorkshire Freeholder

On the 29th June 1716 Joseph Addison brought his one-man periodical, The Free-Holder, to a close. As a metropolitan paper concerned primarily with defending the workings of Britain’s London-based government Addison worked hard to canvas as many Whig votes as possible. However, his paper is emphatically addressed to the Whigs of the city and is surprisingly dismissive of partisanship that exists outside of the capital.

Nevertheless, sixty-four years later a belated sequel to the paper appeared in York in the form of Christopher Wyvill’s Yorkshire Freeholder. This paper, which introduces itself as being indebted to Addison’s earlier periodical, sets out to do for York what it believes Addison’s Free-Holder did for Britain: identifying, galvanizing and defending a coherent community or Yorkshire Freeholders. The Yorkshire Freeholder, which is far more humorous than the original, offers an ideal case study for posing a series of pertinent questions about the provincial press, and about the York press in particular.

In exploring the relationship between these periodicals this paper will ask: how can York present itself as a legitimate alternative centre of culture and authority to London, as The Yorkshire Freeholder attempts, when using a periodical press which not only originated in the metropolis but is also instinctively prejudiced against provincial partisanship? How do Whigs and Tories canvas votes outside of the metropolis? And how exactly does the North imagine itself in papers such as this?

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