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Laughing at the King

Selected Poems

Peter Pindar

Edited by Fenella Copplestone

Peter Pindar, Laughing at the King
10% off all versions
Categories: 18th Century, British, Humour
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2009)
£12.95 £11.65
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(Pub. Aug 2009)
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  • What modern Courtier, pray, hath got the face
    To say to Majesty, 'O King!
    At such a time, in such a place,
    You did a very foolish thing'?

    from 'An Apologetic Postscript to Ode upon Ode'
    Peter Pindar (1738-1819), the pen name of John Wolcot, dared to ridicule the foibles, corruptions and misdemeanours of King George III and those in power in his kingdom. His satire was merciless, but Wolcot survived accusations of treason, protected by his wit and readership. His admirers included Lord Nelson and the Prince Regent himself; to Robert Burns he was 'a delightful fellow and a first favourite of mine'. Fascinating for what they reveal of the world of Hanoverian England, Peter Pindar's audacious poems still shock the modern reader into laughter at the unchanging characteristics of the arrogant and powerful.

    Fenella Copplestone's introduction and notes illuminate social and literary contexts of Pindar's writing.

    Cover image: Treason!!! (1798) by Richard Newton.Cover design


    A Note on the Text   
    Suggestions for Further Reading    



    from Canto the First. September 1785   
    (Canto II. 1787)  
    from Canto the Third. April 1791   
    (Canto IV. December 1792)   
    from Canto the Fifth. November 1795   



    from An Apologetic Postscript to Ode upon Ode. 1787
        The Apple Dumplings and a King   
    from Instructions to a Celebrated Laureat
         Birth-day Ode (Alias Mr Whitbread’s Brewhouse).
    May 1787   
    from Peter’s Pension. 1788
        The Royal Sheep  
        The King and Parson Young   
    from The Royal Tour and Weymouth Amusements. 1795
        The Royal Tour    

    Peter Pindar
    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 ... read more
    Fenella Copplestone
    Fenella Copplestone was born and educated in Northern Ireland, reading English at Queen’s University Belfast. She holds an MA in American Studies from the University of Sussex and an M.Phil in the teaching of poetry from the Universy of Exeter. Trained as an English teacher at Makerere University, Kampala, she taught ... read more
    '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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