A Drink with The Idler | Madeleine Pelling on 18th Century Britain told through its Graffiti

Madeleine Pelling


Join “A Drink with the Idler” as we talk to Madeleine Pelling about how 18th century graffiti reveals the story of real people’s lives.

In her upcoming book, Writing on the Wall, Madeleine Pelling sketches a cultural history of the long eighteenth century through the lives, loves, triumphs and failures of ordinary people, scratched into the walls of prisons, latrines, doors and windows. Moving from London to the Caribbean Islands, Madeleine searches for examples of graffiti that reflect how ordinary people experienced the world-changing events that defined their lives.

“You’ve read the Austen and seen the Gainsboroughs, well this is the real Eighteenth Century in the words of those who walked the streets, worked the coal seems and clung to the topsail yards.” – Dan Snow 

The discussion will be followed by a live Q&A. The Idler Academy’s Head of Philosophy Dr Mark Vernon will present a short “thought for the week” to get our brains fizzing and the discussion will be followed by a live Q&A. The event will be  hosted by Idler Academy director Victoria Hull.

This is an online event. It should be like meeting up in the pub for an interesting conversation. We leave the meeting open at the end so you can carry on chatting.

Madeleine Pelling is a cultural historian, author and broadcaster. She holds a PhD from the University of York and has held research fellowships at the universities of Yale, Edinburgh and Manchester. Her first book, Writing on the Wall: Graffiti, Rebellion and the Making of Eighteenth-Century Britain (Profile Books, 2024), tells the stories of immigrants, prisoners of war, debtors, sex workers and rebels in Georgian Britain through the marks they left behind, and offers a new perspective on this tumultuous period of history. Madeleine is co-host of History Hit’s After Dark: Myths, Misdeeds and the Paranormal, a podcast that shines a light on the shadier corners of the past and which brings a rigorous historical lens to folklore and true crime. She is also a regular contributor on television programmes such as the upcoming Titanic in Colour (Channel 4), and Mayhem! Secret Lives of the Georgian Kings (2025), as well as Queens That Changed The World (Channel 4, 2023) and Who Do You Think You Are? Australia (Warner Bros, 2023). Her words appear in The Guardian, The Independent, BBC History Magazine and History Today.

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of the Idler and author of the best-selling manuals, How to Be Idle and How to Be Free. Other publications include a book on parenting, the Ukulele Handbook and a manual for creative entrepreneurs, Business for Bohemians.

Dr Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist, writer, broadcaster, and teacher. He presents several Idler Academy online courses. He has a PhD in philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. His most recent books include – The Idler Guide To Ancient Philosophy (Idler Books), Love: All That Matters (Hodder) and Jung: How To Believe (Guardian Shorts) – and he has books on friendship, belief and the good life too. Mark can often be heard on Moral Maze. He began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England. For more visit, www.markvernon.com

Victoria Hull is director of The Idler Academy, producing the Idler’s live and online events and courses.

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Short yet so sweet, delightful and interesting… uplifting intelligent conversation. I feel so happy to have stumbled upon The Idler. I bow to you all☺️⭐️

Drinks with the Idler has turned out to be one of our lifelines! Such fun, wonderful commentary by you and the remarkable Mark, not to mention the delightful Victoria. 

A great way to round off another year of Drinks, raise a glass to Christmas and to 2024!!

Event Details

Date: Thursday 18 April 2024

Time: 6pm-7pm

Location: Online via Zoom link

Cost: £7.50. Free for Idler members. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

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