Monday 7 November 2022

Book Review: Uproar! by Alice Loxton (History/Non-Fiction)

Title: Uproar!
Author: Alice Loxton
Publisher: Icon Books
Publication Date: 2 March 2023
Pages: 416
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: History/Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

London, 1772: a young artist called Thomas Rowlandson is making his way through the grimy backstreets of the capital, on his way to begin his studies at the Royal Academy Schools. Within a few years, James Gillray and Isaac Cruikshank would join him in Piccadilly, turning satire into an artform, taking on the British establishment, and forever changing the way we view power.

Set against a backdrop of royal madness, political intrigue, the birth of modern celebrity, French revolution, American independence and the Napoleonic Wars, UPROAR! follows the satirists as they lampoon those in power, from the Prince Regent to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Their prints and illustrations deconstruct the political and social landscape with surreal and razor-sharp wit, as the three men vie with each other to create the most iconic images of the day.

UPROAR! fizzes with energy on every page. Alice Loxton writes with verve and energy, never failing to convince in her thesis that Gillray and his gang profoundly altered British humour, setting the stage for everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Private Eye and Spitting Image today. This is a book that will cause readers to reappraise everything they think they know about genteel Georgian London, and see it for what it was - a time of UPROAR!

I have long loved the satirical drawings of Georgian England and have wished to learn more about them, since, while they often illustrate books on the era, they are rarely spoken of in any detail. Therefore I was excited to see a book releasing on this very topic. Overall, Alice Loxton's Uproar! is a wonderful read. It was fascinating to learn more about the background of the artists and the manner in which they produced their prints. Their personal stories were expertly woven in with discussion of the key events and people they lampooned in their artworks, and I learnt a few new things along the way that I hadn't come across in other books on the period. The only reason this book gets 4.5 stars from me and not a full 5 is the fact that, given it is a book about art, I would have liked to have seen more visuals included, perhaps in the form of colour plates. However, I note that I was reading an ARC. Therefore, it may well be that additional images will be included in the final version of the book. I will have to take a look once it releases, as this is one I would like to buy a copy of for my shelf! Recommended for anyone interested in either the Georgian era or the birth of cartoons and satirical artwork.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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