Beaufort: Citizen John

Political Work


We live to improve, if we are wise; and if we are virtuous, we live not only to improve ourselves but to improve our fellow beings, by encouraging free and liberal enquiry…with knowledge, as with coin, we must divide it into small parts before we can diffuse it through the general circle of society, and fit it for the accommodations and uses of life. (John Thelwall, Tribune 1795)

The Beaufort Building was the nerve centre of Thelwall’s political activities, and British radical culture, in 1790s London (1794-96). Located just off the Strand, where the Savoy Hotel and Theatre now stand, the spacious three-story premises accommodated the Thelwall family, hosted meetings of the London Corresponding Society, staged the lectures that established Thelwall’s reputation as the most outspoken and steadfast radical thinker of the day, and housed the press on which he printed The Tribune and other LCS publications. Combining materials and mechanisms of domestic, political, oral, and textual enquiry, production, and delivery, this is the first of several sites in which he attempted to realize in physical space his inclusive ideal of intellectual democracy and citizenship.

The Beaufort pages aim to recreate this space, with its manifold opportunities for query and enquiry, conversation and response, in the virtual realm. You will find here an Archive of Thelwall’s political writings and correspondence, highlighting the 1790s but extending throughout his career. The Forum page reproduces the Corresponding Society in inviting conversation about all things Thelwallian on Twitter.

John Thelwall:
Words and Work

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