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The Laughter of Triumph

Ben Wilson

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Satirist William Hone is the forgotten hero of the British press. In 1817 he was forced to defend himself against a censorious government, in what amounted to a show trial pitting a self-educated Fleet Street journalist against the Lord Chief Justice and a hand-picked jury. Hone’s crime was to ridicule the powers that be. Through Hone’s life, Ben Wilson looks at the history of the struggle for free expression against repressive law.

Critic Reviews

This exquisite biography is utterly deserved and thoroughly welcome.

Critic Reviews

Ben Wilson has done a wonderful job rescuing [William Hone] from obscurity ... His portrait of literary life in the early 19th century, based around the taverns, coffee houses and printing houses of Fleet Street, sounds a lot more fun than Davy's in Canary Wharf.

Henry Castaglione, Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Before I picked up this book I would have been hard pressed to offer any useful information about William Hone. "Nineteenth-century journalist, I think", would have been about it. After reading about a third of the book, not only was I considerably better informed, but I was wondering why there isn't a stature of him somewhere. After reading about half the book I started thinking there maybe ought to be one of him in Trafalgar Square, a little bit more noticeable than the one of Nelson. For Hone, in his way, did as much as the naval man to safeguard liberty in this country ... It is a story of incredible heroism, not to mention bare-faced cheek: the kind that tells truth to power ... How [Hone] managed to win an acquittal should be compulsory reading fro anyone interested in the history of liberty in this country. Or indeed anywhere. PAPERBACK CHOICE

Nick Lezard, Guardian
Critic Reviews

A well-researched, enjoyable and impressive tale.

The Herald

Ben Wilson was born in1980 and studied history at Pembroke College, Cambridge – both as an undergraduate and postgraduate. His first book, THE LAUGHTER OF TRIUMPH: WILLIAM HONE AND THE FIGHT FOR THE FREE PRESS, was published by Faber in 2005 to universal accalim. This was followed in 2007 by DECENCY AND DISORDER: THE AGE OF CANT 1789-1837.

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