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Peter Pindar (1738 - 1819)

Books by this author: Laughing at the King
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  • JOHN WOLCOT ('PETER PINDAR') was born in 1738 in Devon. He was educated in Devon, Cornwall and France and he also studied medicine in London. His medical degree was gained from Aberdeen University in 1767, by external examination in Plymouth. In the same year he travelled to Jamaica and became physician to the governor, Sir William Trelawney. Upon his return to England after Trelawney's death he practised medicine in Cornwall, where he befriended the artist John Opie, who became his protégé. In 1778 Wolcot abandoned medicine and went with Opie to London, where he began his career as a satirist under the pseudonym of Peter Pindar, publishing Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians (1782–5). His verses were bestsellers and he became a well-known figure in the capital's literary and political circles, greatly admired for his biting wit and social commentary. His targets included William Pitt, James Boswell, Sir Joseph Banks and the moralist Hannah More. His most important target was the King himself. In 1786 he published the first canto of his most important poem, The Lousiad, the five volumes of which were not completed until 1795, and in 1787 Ode upon Ode, which ridiculed the official yearly odes to King George III. Wolcot’s verse was collected in 1812. He died in London in 1819 and was buried in the church of St Paul's, Covent Garden.
    Praise for Peter Pindar (1738 - 1819) 'The Papers I see are full of anecdotes of the late King: how he nodded to a Coal Heaver and laugh'd with a Quaker and liked boil'd Leg of Mutton. Old Peter Pindar is just dead: what will the old King and he have to say to each other? Perhaps the King may confess that Peter was in the right, and Peter maintain himself to have been in the wrong'.
    John Keats 
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