Tuesday, 20 September 2011


It appears that I am going to be speaking at the Philosophytown Festival in Malmesbury after all.
If you happen to be in that delightful edge-of-the-Cotswolds town on the morning of Sunday 16th October at 9.30 (!) then you can come and hear me talk about the history of the London coffee house with added contribution about Joseph Addison from the festival organiser Michael Cuthbert.
The full programme is here.
Addison helped set up his wife's former servant Daniel Button in an eponymous coffee house in Russell St Covent Garden, just a few doors down from where Johnson and Boswell would meet many years later. He also visited coffee houses to get material for The Spectator.
Much more can be found in my book London's Coffee Houses. A short extract below:
'Some of the flavour of debate in London coffee houses is captured in Joseph Addison’s account of his visit, during the course of a day, to a variety of popular establishments, where he hoped to determine public opinion regarding a (false) rumour of the death of the king of France that was spreading across the capital. He started at the St James’s coffee house where,
“I found the whole outward Room in a Buzz of Politics. The Speculations were but very indifferent towards the Door, but grew finer as you advanced to the upper end of the Room, and were so very much improved by a Knot of Theorists, who sat in the inner room, within the Steams of the Coffee Pot, that I there heard the whole Spanish monarchy disposed of, and all the line of Bourbon provided for in less than a Quarter of an Hour.” '

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