Print, Politics and Publishing conference – 21 July 2017

Hosted by the Centre for Printing History and Culture

Birmingham City University, 9am-5pm

This one-day conference considers politics (of all flavours) and the provincial press from the early modern to present day.

John Freeth was landlord of a celebrated Birmingham tavern and it was his custom to write songs about the news of the day, setting his words to popular tunes, which he sang nightly to patrons. This made Freeth’s Coffee-House one of the most successful in England. Freeth published nearly 400 of his songs, which offer a novel insight into the radical and nonconformist politics of late eighteenth-century Birmingham. In 1783 Josiah Wedgwood printed a series of political leaflets in Newcastle-under-Lyme. An address on the late riots was occasioned by corn uprisings at his factory, when Wedgwood summoned militia to disperse the mobs. Following arrests and one execution, Wedgwood’s leaflet warned against the folly of violence to redress social evils and recommended ‘peaceable’ alternatives, stressing the temporary nature of economic recession. On 27 October 1857, John Bright MP addressed a crowded Birmingham Town Hall. Already a famous politician and orator, expectations were he would deliver a news-worth speech. So much so, The Times chartered a special night train to deliver his text in time for the morning editions. His speech in the provinces, a call for universal suffrage, marked a turning-point in nineteenth-century electoral reform.


  • Dr Ian Cawood, Newman University, Birmingham’s Satirical Periodicals in the age of Chamberlain;

    Gail Chester, Independent Scholar, The influence of provincial publications in the radical movements of the 1960s-90s;

    Tor Clark, De Montfort University in Leicester, The Local Democratic Deficit – how the decline of the regional press has impacted on coverage of local government in the UK;

    Judith Davies, PhD Student, University of Birmingham, George Walters, Dudley’s radical printer;

    Dr Catherine Ferris, Dublin Institute of Technology, The Freeman’s Journal, Evening Packet and Saunders’s News-Letter: Musical Identities, Political Identities;

    Duncan Frankis, PhD Student, University of Birmingham, That Nefarious Newspaper: The Dublin Evening Post, 1789-1794;

    Prof Matthew Grenby, University of Newcastle, ‘Ye lovers of freedom, attend to my song’: Eighteenth-Century Election Ballads in Newcastle upon Tyne;

    Rachel Hobbs, PhD Student, University of Birmingham, Birmingham’s Biographers: Three Late-Victorian Histories And The Promotion of Civic Identity;

    Dr Lisa Peters, Chester University, Getting the boss elected to Parliament: the political campaigns of the Wrexham Guardian;

    Susan Thomas, PhD Student, University of Birmingham, ‘Munchausen Unmasked’? George Edmonds versus The Monthly Argus;

    Helen Williams, PhD Student, Edinburgh Napier University, ‘Mr O’Connor, famous Chartist, visits town’: reporting Chartism in south west Scotland;

    Dr. Paul Wilson, University of Leeds, Hopeful words and the neighbourly order of the world.

For more information and to book visit the website.