Gin and books, what more could we ask for?

The delightful Adrian Teal, writer and illustrator, is writing The Gin Lane Gazette for Unbound Publishers – a brilliant venture which lets authors pitch their ideas direct to their readers. Readers pledge different amounts – everyone gets a copy of the book for their pledge, but there are special ad-ons the more you pledge. Take a look at Adrian’s page: http://unbound.co.uk/books/gin-lane-gazette and make a pledge – I personally love the idea of a gin soaked pub crawl around Georgian hot spots, but you can also get yourself immortalized in his book, if you’re game.

Adrian has kindly written LWC the following guest blog:

Many of us think of the ill-behaved tabloid celebrity as an invention of the modern world, but the antics of Premiership footballers and C-list soap stars are as nothing when seen alongside the peccadilloes and hell-raising of eighteenth-century media icons.

The Georgian period gave us boozy Prime Ministers and party leaders who settled their political differences with duels in Hyde Park (when they weren’t gambling, or writing essays about farting); peers of the realm who had the unburied corpses of their cherished mistresses sat at their dinner tables; and celebrity courtesans who ate 1,000-guinea banknotes stuffed into sandwiches, simply to make a point. Before it was dashed from their lips by Victorian party-poopers, our Georgian forebears drank deep from the cup of life.

So, how best can we recapture some of the spirit of this gloriously dissipated and star-studded epoch? This question dogged me for some time, after it was suggested to me by John Mitchinson – co-creator of the BBC’s hit panel show, QI, the book spin-offs of which I have supplied with cartoons – that I should write and illustrate an historical tome. A lovely thought, but there is so much to enjoy about the 1700s that tying it all together in an original and exciting format seemed an impossible task.

Then, one day, I was reading a biography of William Cobbett, the Regency-period newspaper editor and author, when it struck me that a journalistic approach would be just the ticket. Why not illustrate and write about these disparate events as if they have just happened? The eighteenth century was both the first great age of newspapers and the golden age of caricature, after all. And books are still the best kind of virtual reality that we have, to my way of thinking. Could I generate virtual Georgian reality with words and pictures? An idea was born.

John was in the process of setting up his crowd-funded publishing venture, Unbound, and given the quirky, esoteric nature of the project I had in mind, it seemed the obvious road down which to push my newspaper cart. An accord was reached, and Unbound is now the book’s kindly and encouraging Fairy Godmother.

The GIN LANE GAZETTE will be a bound compendium of illustrated ‘best bits’ from a fictional newspaper of the latter 1700s: a kind of Georgian Heat magazine, if you like. It will contain some of the most sensational headlines and true stories of the period, generated by many familiar figures from history during their more unguarded moments. The presses will be presided over by inky-fingered old hack, Mr. Nathaniel Crowquill, the editor and proprietor, whose premises are located in Hogarth’s chaotic Gin Lane, and who has devoted fifty long years to sniffing out bawdy scandal and intrigue with which to titillate his London readership. His drunken acolyte, the rascally Mr. Jakes, supplies merciless caricatures and engravings, which disport themselves across every page. Sports reports, obituaries, fashion news, courtesans of the month, and advertisements for bizarre – and often alarming – goods and services will also feature in this riotous mélange of metropolitan mayhem.

I have spent fifteen years producing cartoons for clients as diverse as The Sunday Telegraph, Jongleurs, and History Today, and want to combine my experience in journalistic caricature with my deep love of history in this unique and evocative way. In the process, I hope to give you an authentic flavour of the exuberance, self-confidence, debauchery, bravery, villainy, inventiveness, and eccentricity which characterize the loveable Georgian world.

Prithee honour this beguiling Endeavour, apt to adorn any ATHENAEUM of the Annals of Ages, with YOUR WORSHIPS’ most gracious Patronage.

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