Friday, 24 July 2020
Work on GEORGE CANNING IS MY SON may have been held up by the pandemic but progress is being made and the book is due to appear in March next year. I have just sent the text back to the editor with my latest lot of corrections -- mainly small changes to the wording (deleting adverbs, removing repetition) but also dealing with one or two factual errors.
The designers at Unbound have been at work…
Publication delayed + 1915 film "Jane Shore"
Monday, 20 April 2020
I've been told by Unbound that the publication date for George Canning Is My Son has been pushed back to March 2021. This is, of course, due to the disruption caused by the current epidemic. Disappointing but clearly understandable.
To sugar the pill, let me draw attention to a treat available from the British Film Institute, in the form of Will Barker's 1915 film Jane Shore, which is based…
11 April 1770 and 1820
Thursday, 9 April 2020
"On the Eleventh of April you were Born," wrote Mary Ann to George, "the delight, the blessing of my fond Heart — and the mingled source of pride and agony to your Fathers."
Of all the events of Mary Ann's life the birth, 250 years ago, of this favourite child was the most momentous -- or so she would have us believe. For her, the bond that Nature forged between mother and child was sacred.…
The influenza pandemic of 1788
Sunday, 15 March 2020
Mary Ann was in Lancaster in the summer of 1788 when the epidemic caught up with her. The night before she fell ill she had been playing Lady Randolph in John Home's tragedy Randolph.
The influenza of 1788 was sometimes known as the Russian disease from the early accounts of the devastation it caused in the Ukrainian city of Kherson. As it moved westwards newspapers told of distinguished sufferers…
The Long Letter -- a play based on Mary Ann's story
Tuesday, 31 December 2019
A couple of days ago I sent the text of George Canning Is My Son to Unbound so that the editing process can begin. I don't know how much will have to be done and how long it will take, but I'm told the provisional publication date is before the end of 2020. We'll see. But supporters who so kindly showed faith and subscribed to the book are that much closer to getting it in their hands.
Publishing by subscription
Saturday, 19 October 2019
Many thanks to all who have subscribed to George Canning Is My Son and helped it to reach its funding target. It is hoped to bring it out before the end of 2020, which happens to be George's 250th anniversary year.
When George Canning was born his parents had a house at the eastern end of Queen Anne Street. It was not the fashionable, more expensive end, but still they were living beyond their…
Friday, 11 October 2019
There are detectable signs that towards the end of his life George Canning softened in his attitude towards his mother. At the same time his public conduct became fiercer, and his temper was described as 'volcanic'. This resulted in sharp confrontations in parliament, of which the most famous occurred in 1823.
Having begun his parliamentary career by abandoning his radical and reformist beliefs…
October 1792: Mary Ann and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Monday, 30 September 2019
In a talk on Sunday 13 October I shall be discussing Mary Ann's life from the perspective of Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Details of the talk are available here.
October 1792 was a low-point in Mary Ann's life. Her husband refused to maintain her, she had given up her career, she had eight children to support, and was living with her aged mother in Somerstown, just…
George Canning and Boris Johnson
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
People are drawing comparisons between George Canning and Boris Johnson, partly because of the possibility that Johnson will displace Canning as the country's shortest serving prime minister. (See for example the front page of today's Daily Mirror.) There are other points of similarity. Both made a name for themselves as schoolboys at Eton, for example. In parliament Canning was highly controversial…
Talk about Mary Ann, Hackney 13 October
Sunday, 22 September 2019
This may be of interest to Londoners who like lavish teas and stimulating conversation on a Sunday afternoon. At 2pm on Sunday 13 October I shall be giving a talk on Mary Ann for "Bluestocking Teas" in the Crypt at St Peter de Beauvoir, Northchurch Terrace, N1 4DA (seven minutes walk from Haggerston Overground Station). Tickets for the tea cost £20 and can be bought from https://ticketlab.co.uk…
Such a Capital Actor
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
In 1827 there was a new and controversial prime minister, George Canning. More than half a century earlier his mother, Mary Ann, had appeared at Drury Lane Theatre. A month after Canning took office, and two months after Mary Ann's death, a London newspaper, The Age, published a copy of a play-bill from her 1774 benefit night, along with the following explanation: "Many of our readers are not probably…
Mary Ann Hunn - Always something new
Wednesday, 14 August 2019
The National Portrait Gallery in London has recently acquired a political cartoon from 1820 in which a devilish George Canning, his face alive with malice, envy and ambition, is shown with bellows labelled "Mother Hunn" fanning the flames beneath the three witches' cauldron, the three witches being (I think) Lords Castlereagh, Liverpool and Sidmouth. The King and the Duke of York look on, while the…