Ophelia Field's `Kit-Cat Club' is a story of a changing time in 17th-century Britain, during the reigns of Queen Anne and George I, when a group of men and their enterprising initiatives paved the way for new literary and political viewpoints, born out of the most unexpected circumstances. The Kit-Cat Club was founded in the late 1690s when Jacob Tonson, a bookseller of lowly birth, forged a partnership with the pie-maker Christopher (Kit) Cat.
What began as an eccentric publishing rights deal - Tonson paying to feed hungry young writers and so receiving first option on their works - developed into a unique gathering of intellects and interests, then into the unofficial centre of Whig power during the reigns of William & Mary, Anne and George I. With consummate skill, Ophelia Field, author of the acclaimed biography of the first Duchess of Marlborough, `The Favourite', portrays this formative period in British history through the club's intimate lens.
She describes the vicious Tory-Whig `paper wars', the mechanics of aristocratic patronage, the London theatre world and its battles over sexual morality, England's union with Scotland, Dublin society governed by a Kit-Cat and the hurly-burly of Westminster politics. Field expertly unravels the deceit, rivalry, friendships and fortunes lost and found through the club, along with wonderful descriptions of how its alcohol-fuelled, all-male meetings were conducted.
Tracing the Kit-Cat Club's far-reaching influence for the first time, this group biography illuminates a time when Britain was searching for its own identity.
- Format: Paperback / softback
- Pages: 524 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 05/02/2009
- Category: History: specific events & topics
- ISBN: 9780007178933
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