The Republican Virago

The Life and Times of Catharine Macaulay, Historian
Author(s): 
Hill, Bridget
ISBN: 
0198129785
Date published: 
January 1992
Hardback
Price: 
£42.00
Pages: 
276

Catharine Macaulay represented everything the eighteenth century abhorred in a woman. She was learned, politically minded, actively engaged with public and philosophical issues of the day. Her private life, and especially her `imprudent' second marriage to a man twenty-six years her junior, led to much malicious gossip. Yet in her lifetime she also won considerable fame. The author of an eight-volume history of England in the seventeenth century, a republican, a follower of John Wilkes, and a political polemicist who engaged with Edmund Burke, not only did she influence the nature of eighteenth-century radicalism in England, but she played an important contributory role in the shaping of American revolutionary ideology. Among her American friends and correspondents were Mercy Otis Warren, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Ezra Stiles and George Washington. Long before the Revolution she was also closely concerned with events in France. Both Mirabeau and Brissot w ere familiar with her History and much influenced by it; translated into French it was welcomed by patriots as an effective response to the counter-revolutionary influence of Hume's history. This is the first major biographical study of a remarkable and influential figure. For a woman to make such an impact in the restrictive environment of eighteenth-century England was astonishing: no one interested in the development of English radicalism or revolutionary politics can afford to ignore Catharine Macaulay.

Bridget Hill has written the first major biographical study of a remarkable woman: historian, political polemicist, and an important influence on the development of both eighteenth-century English radicalism and American revolutionary ideology.

Catharine Macaulay represented everything the eighteenth century abhorred in a woman. The author of an eight-volume History of England and influential figure for English, French and American radicalism, her reputation was destroyed by a second marriage to a man 26 years her junior. Bridget Hill has written a major study of a woman who won considerable fame in her own lifetime, but whose achievements have been underestimated by later historians.