Fame and Fortune
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
This book, co-authored with Clare Brant, examines the intellectual world of 1750s London through the prism of the controversial figure Sir John Hill (1714–1775), building on Rousseau’s first full-length biography published in 2012. It presents the 1750s as an important decade in its own right; a time of broad metropolitan transformation occurring in response to new knowledge and a burgeoning urban centre set in transformative spaces. Fame and Fortune also offers scholars new understanding of the role played by ‘celebrity’ figures in forming the metropolis that mid-Georgian London became.
Hill, an important commentator on urban space and its social implications, also helped define London in his periodical journalism and fiction writing. As well as examining his role among his contemporaries, the book dissects Hill’s activities as a means of exploring London's lively public sphere in the 1750s where rivalries abounded, and clubs, societies, coffee-houses, theatres and pleasure gardens were the setting for the making and breaking of careers. By investigating the intersections of one individual with his metropolis, Fame and Fortune contributes new dimensions to the forms and functions of diverse mid-eighteenth century intellectual milieus.
This multi-disciplinary essay collection explores the very controversial life of a prolific contributor to Georgian England’s literature, medicine and science. By the time Hill died, he had been knighted by the Swedish monarch and become a household name among scientists and writers in many parts of Britain and Europe. The paradox is that in 1750s London Hill was a celebrity, but he was also widely vilified.