Dinner with Joseph Johnson


Once a week, in late 18th-century London, writers of contrasting politics and personalities gathered around a dining table. The veal and boiled vegetables on offer at 72 St Pauls Courtyard may have been unappetising but the company was convivial and the conversation was at once brilliant, unpredictable and profound. The host was Joseph Johnson, publisher and bookseller: a man at the heart of literary life. Johnson was joined at dinner by a shifting constellation of extraordinary people who, during the period he was in business, remade the literary world. His guests included the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli, his chief engraver William Blake and scientists Joseph Priestley and Benjamin Franklin. William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge sat beside a group of remarkable women including the poet Anna Barbauld, the novelist Maria Edgeworth and Mary Wollstonecraft.

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*Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize*

In late eighteenth-century London, a group of extraordinary people gathered around a dining table once a week.

The host was Joseph Johnson, publisher and bookseller and he was joined at dinner by a shifting constellation of great minds including William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Henry Fuseli, Anna Barbauld and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Johnson’s years as a maker of books saw profound change in Britain and abroad. In this remarkable portrait of a revolutionary age, Daisy Hay captures a changing nation through the stories of the men and women who wrote it into being, and whose ideas still influence us today.

‘Rich in period and personal detail’ Guardian

‘Hugely engrossing’ Sunday Times

Additional information

Weight 0.44 kg
Dimensions 19.7 × 12.8 × 3.4 cm










828.609 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K