Making Fun of George Augustus Frederick

Last February I attended and spoke at a conference organised and funded by the VolkswagenStiftung. The conference  was hosted at the splendid Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover and it examined caricature during the personal union between England and Hanover – the Georgians were Electors of Hanover before they were Kings of England. This month an edited collection of essays from that conference has been published by V&R Academic under the title Loyal Subversion? Caricatures from the Personal Union between England and Hanover (1714-1837) to celebrate the three-hundredth anniversary of that union.

Entitled ‘The Royal Brat: Making Fun of George Augustus Frederick’, my essay in Loyal Subversion explores those late-Georgian satirical prints that featured that most sexually incontinent of royal brats: George Augustus Frederick Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and George IV. I argue that although the prince’s indiscretions were an irresistible commercial opportunity for those who made and sold satirical prints, for the entrepreneur and print seller Samuel Fores, whose shops were located in fashionable Piccadilly, the opportunity was tempered by an alternative commercial pressure – to not publish work whose politics alienated his current and potential customers. By comparing prints the artist-engraver Isaac Cruikshank made for Fores with prints on similar incidents made by James Gillray for Hannah Humphrey, I argue that Fores preferred to publish work that found a middle way – that hung on the coat tails of Gillray’s work without incorporating the same vitriol towards the Prince and his numerous, egregious failings. In sum, making fun of George Augustus Frederick was a delicate business.

Alongside my essay are eight others, including notable contributions from Sheila O’Connell, Brian Maidment, and Tim Clayton, that reflect the convivial, critical, and creative atmosphere of the original conference and of current scholarship in the field. The volume itself is hardbound, contains ninety-five colour illustrations, and is priced at only €29.99. So pick one up now! (book listing at V&R.)

Of course, like buses, publications come all at once and accordingly last month also saw the publication of my chapter for The Programming Historian on ‘Preserving Your Research Data.’ This essay is based on a talk I gave at the Software Sustainability Institute funded ‘Sustainable History‘ event held at the Institute of Historical Research last November. It covers why historians should think about structuring and documenting the digital research data they produce – ergo anything they type and save – and some strategies for doing so. The take-home message is that structuring your directories and filenames in a consistent and predictable manner is a crucial step towards ensuring that you are able to understand the data they contain when you return to them in the future (HT William Stafford Noble, ‘A Quick Guide to Organizing Computational Biology Projects’, PLoS Comput Biol 5(7): e1000424. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000424.) A handy additional benefit is that consistency also makes manipulating, counting, and mining data with command line tools much more efficient, and so two more lessons that cover the Unix command line – co-written with Ian Milligan – are in preparation.

The Programming Historian is an open access, digital only collaborative and iterative book project support by NiCHE. If you are looking to enhance your digital research skills I heartily recommend you take a look.


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