Dr Joseph Crawford (University of Exeter)
Exeter - as described by Daniel Defoe in the early eighteenth-century: "large, rich, beautiful, populous and...once very strong".
Joseph Coles, "A true plan of the city of Excester Anno Domini MDCCIX" (1709)
This week, we'd like to welcome Dr Joseph Crawford from the University of Exeter, here to speak to us about his current research on the city's eighteenth-century literary culture:
In the early eighteenth century, the south-west of England was still a remote and little-visited area. Exeter, which in 1700 was still one of the largest and richest cities in England, served as the regional capital, separated from London by a hundred and fifty miles of famously terrible West Country roads which took four days to traverse by coach. Throughout the century, the most gifted writers born in the region - John Gay, Hannah Cowley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge - headed to London to seek their fortunes; but the printing and book-selling trades flourished in Exeter, and by the 1780s the city could boast a well-established local literary culture, with Devonshire doctors, clergymen, officers, Dissenters, and in one case even an Exmoor wool-comber coming to Exeter to have their writings printed and sold. In this seminar, I shall map out the development of this local literary culture, and discuss some of the ways in which it both conformed with and deviated from the more familiar national narratives regarding the development of English literature during the eighteenth century.
As ever, all are welcome to attend both the seminar and the wine reception afterwards; we hope to see many of you on Thursday!