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  • Cited by 2
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2020
Print publication year:
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Book description

While the French Revolution drew immense attention to French radicals and their ideas, London also played host to a radical intellectual culture. Drawing on both original material and a range of interdisciplinary insights, Radical Conduct transforms our understanding of the literary radicalism of London at the time of the French Revolution. It offers new accounts of people's understanding of and relationship to politics, their sense of the boundaries of privacy, their practices of sociability, friendship, gossip and discussion, the relations between radical men and women, and their location in a wider world of sound and movement in the period. It reveals a series of tensions between many radicals' deliberative practices and aspirations and the conventions and practices in which their behaviour remained embedded. Exploring these relationships and pressures reveals the fractured world of London society and politics, dramatically illuminating both the changing fortunes of radical men and women, and the intriguing uncertainties that drove some of the government's repressive policies.


‘Radical Conduct is a remarkable redefinition of sociability as political practice. For Godwin, Wollstonecraft and their friends, the personal was always political, and their politics had to be tested against their conduct, as they attempted to challenge habit and custom though everyday interactions recorded in their diaries, letters, and fiction.’

Jon Mee - University of York

‘Mark Philp’s important study advances debates on late-eighteenth-century social, political and literary culture in crucial ways, reconceptualizing the ways that people thought about and practised both politics and sociability in the period. Its focus on lived experience and conduct demonstrates the ways in which political aspirations often clashed with practice.’

Mary Fairclough - University of York

‘Philp’s overall achievement is a rich, nuanced, and often poignant picture of how metropolitan radicalism was practiced in the age of revolutions.’

Gordon Pentland Source: Journal of British Studies

‘Philp’s … portrait of 1790s literary radicalism immeasurably enriches our understanding of the world that shaped democratic combat during a transformative moment in British politics.’

Barbara Taylor Source: History Workshop Journal

'This volume augments this outstanding contribution by focusing on the London “middling orders” who made up Godwin’s literary circle and others like it, men like Thomas Holcroft, and a great many women, including Mary Hays, Elizabeth Inchbald, Amelia Alderson, and Mary Wollstonecraft, who amongst others are given special attention here.'

Gregory Claeys Source: International Review of Social History

‘… a careful, nuanced study of how London’s radical reformist circles pursued 'deliberative equality' within a context of significant social inequality … Emerging from pandemic social and intellectual isolation, this book takes on a resonance that makes it a particularly profound read.'

Miriam L. Wallace Source: Eighteenth-Century Fiction

'… a superb contribution to studies of popular and literary radicalism during the French and Napoleonic wars. It offers a deeper understanding of notions of sociability, friendship, and gender in this period.'

Katrina Navickas Source: The American Historical Review

‘… a strikingly original work which should be read by historians and literary scholars of the period 1789–1815.'

James Epstein Source: Studies in Romanticism

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