New Acquisitions


Samuel Baker. A Catalogue of the Valuable Library of John Wilkes. London: Baker, 1764. *2008-1092.

Johnson and rabble-rousing MP John Wilkes (1727-1797) were staunch political opponents, but had many friends in common, most notably Boswell, and when Boswell contrived to invite them both to dinner, Johnson found himself unexpectedly charmed by Wilkes. In his weekly newspaper The North Briton, Wilkes directed a scathing stream of criticism toward the governments of Lord Bute and George Grenville in 1762-63. After the publication of the particularly withering issue 45 on April 23, 1763, in which he painted the King as a dupe and puppet of his ministers, Wilkes was arrested for seditious libel, and fled to France to escape prosecution. He was tried and convicted in absentia, and expelled from Parliament. Debts forced him to auction off his home and library, the latter documented by this rare sale catalogue. Wilkes would eventually return both to England and to Parliament, and amass a new library of some 3,000 volumes.