New book – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Hello one and all. For a while there’s not been too much literary news to convey so it has been quiet here. But while chancellors of the exchequer (5 since my last blog post), prime ministers (3) and monarchs (2), have been coming and going in the world outside our house, inside I’ve been reading and writing away.

I finished the manuscript for this new book in June and since then I have been working through various rounds of edits. Now, sitting on the desk in front of me, is a full typeset manuscript for a book that will be out just in time for Independence Day next year. It is called Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness: Britain and the American Dream (1740 – 1776).

Over the next few weeks I’ll go through this manuscript one last time: checking quotes and facts, and stripping out any last typos or echoes. After that, I won’t be able to fiddle any more.

So what to expect? The book tells a single unfolding story. There’s six central characters. Some of them – Benjamin Franklin, John Wilkes, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Paine – may well be familiar to you. Others – the historian Catharine Macaulay and the printer William Strahan – might not be.

No book can claim to be comprehensive when it comes to an event as complex as the American Revolution. But I think the stories of these six reveal much about the forces that lay beneath the founding of the United States of America. Just as importantly, it’s a dramatic story too. Feuds, duals, scientific discoveries, polemics, elections, projects …

If you would like to find out a little more or to pre-order, have a look at this page on Penguin’s site. Otherwise here’s Chatto’s beautiful jacket artwork. I hope you like it!


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