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Passionate Politicians: Parliament, Print and Theatre in the Age of Sheridan and Austen

March 15, 2018 - March 16, 2018
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution

16-18 Queen Square
Bath BA1 2HN
United Kingdom

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Keynote Speaker: Professor Elaine Chalus, University of Liverpool

Georgian Bath was a meeting place, a place for recreation and, sometimes, contestation. Politicians retreated to the city to recover from misfortune and to plan their restoration, as did generals, admirals, and members of the beau monde. Bath was also the launching pad for successful careers, none more spectacular than that of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), playwright and politician. Sheridan fought duels in the city, published his first satires in the Bath Chronicle, and set his first comedy, The Rivals, amongst its parades. Sheridan became a major political figure as a leading member of the Foxite Whigs – and was arguably one of the greatest speakers the House of Commons has seen.  During the last years of his life Sheridan was an avid reader of Jane Austen, perhaps recognising in her works some strain of his own earlier efforts. Austen certainly exploited the same Bath locations that Sheridan had used and would have recognised. These connections make Bath a particularly fitting location for a conference which aims to examine the literary, political and theatrical world of the late eighteenth century.  

Our conference aims to place Sheridan’s career and that of his contemporaries in its broader cultural, social and literary context (as part of the activities of the Leverhulme funded @sheridanproject). We hope to illuminate a wide range of Sheridan’s associations, including: his literary and theatrical worlds; his political and oratorical contributions, some of which had a powerful emotional dimension; his intimate relationship with the media, and his role as one of the ‘celebrities’ of the Georgian era. Papers are welcome on both Sheridan and other aspects of his intellectual and cultural milieu – including those individuals that featured in his political, literary and social orbit, but we would be particularly keen to receive proposals on any of the following:  


The Georgian Media

Women and Political Life

Bath, London, and the Urban World

Political Careers and the Culture of Celebrity

Empire and Ireland

Sociability and Associational Culture

Sheridan, Austen, and Georgian Satire

Proposals for 20 minute papers (c.250 words) should be sent to Martyn Powell at or Robert Jones at by 10 January 2018.

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