chapter  12
20 Pages

William Hone (1780–1842), Print-Culture, and the Nature of Radicalism

ByJason McElligott

This chapter uses the term radical in the sense of functional radicalism, as developed by J. Colin Davis in Radicalism in a traditional society: the evaluation of radical thought in the English Commonwealth. It demonstrates that William Hone was much more socially and politically radical than has recently been acknowledged, and that he was interested in changing much more than the system of political representation in Parliament. The chapter suggests that Hone's encyclopaedic knowledge of early-modern print-culture in particular and his interest in the Leveller leader John Lilburne provides important evidence against which to test recent assertions about the impossibility of tracing a British radical tradition across the early modern period and beyond. Hone's trials suggest that historians also need to be aware of what radicals consciously omitted from their polemics partly due to fear of censorship, but also in a conscious attempt to reach a wider readership than the traditional market for radical polemic and political theory.