Name: Political Satire in 19th century England

Date:  1800 - 1850

Location:  Europe

SubjectReligious , Political/Economic/Social Opinion

MediumDesign , Literature

image description
Artist: William Hone and George Cruikshank

Confronting Bodies: The Attorney-General

Date of Action: 1817

Specific Location: England

Description of Artwork: William Hone published radical pamphlets, illustrated with the political satire of George Cruikshank. These usually avoided censorship due to humor and Hone's excellent defense of himself in court.

Description of Incident: Hone was arrested for publishing his pamphlet, "A parody on the late John Wilkes's Catechism of a Ministeral Member." The Attorney General worried that he might be acquitted on charges of sedition so he changed the charges to be blasphemy, arguing that Hone was attacking the Catholic Church.

Results of Incident: Despite poor health, Hone was forced to give three speeches in the three days of the trial, each over 6 hours in length. He defended himself so well that the jury needed no more than 15 minutes to declare him not guilty, despite a biased judge. Hone had to go to trial two more times over his pamphlets and was acquitted on both occasions.

George Cruikshank, too, saw run ins with the government and was paid one hundred pounds not to portray the king in any "immoral situation."

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

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