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The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London's Golden Age

The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London's Golden Age Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

'I then sallied forth to the Piazzas in rich flow of animal spirits and burning with fierce desire ... I was quite raised, as the phrase is ... I parted with my ladies politely and came home in a glow of spirits' James Boswell

In the teeming, disordered, and sexually charged square half-mile centred on London's Covent Garden something extraordinary evolved in the eighteenth century. It was the world's first creative 'Bohemia'. The nation's most significant artists, actors, poets, novelists, and dramatists lived here. From Soho and Leicester Square across Covent Garden's Piazza to Drury Lane, and down from Long Acre to the Strand, they rubbed shoulders with rakes, prostitutes, market people, craftsmen, and shopkeepers. It was an often brutal world full of criminality, poverty and feuds, but also of high spirits, and an intimacy that was as culturally creative as any other in history. Virtually everything that we associate with Georgian culture was produced here.

Vic Gatrell's spectacular new book recreates this time and place by drawing on a vast range of sources, showing the deepening fascination with 'real life' that resulted in the work of artists like Hogarth, Blake, and Rowlandson, or in great literary works like The Beggar's Opera and Moll Flanders. The First Bohemians is illustrated by many rarely seen pictures, for Gatrell celebrates above all one of the most fertile eras in Britain's artistic history. He writes about Joshua Reynolds and J. M. W. Turner as well as the forgotten figures who contributed to what was a true golden age: the men and women who briefly dazzled their contemporaries before being destroyed - or made - by this magical but also ferocious world.

About the Author

Vic Gatrell's last book, City of Laughter won both the Wolfson Prize for History and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize; his The Hanging Tree won the Whitfield Prize of the Royal Historical Society. He is a Life Fellow of Caius College, Cambridge.

Product Details

Penguin Global
World History-General
Gatrell, Vic
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
9.21 x 6.02 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » Social and Economic History
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London's Golden Age
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Product details 512 pages Penguin Global - English 9781846146770 Reviews:
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