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John Lewis Marks

Letter to Joseph Calkin offering to talk about publication of the enclosed poem 'AMOROS King of little Britain' 4 September 1820

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The poem, 'AMOROS, King of Britain' Royal Archives/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The radical publisher John Lewis Marks was a frequent thorn in the side of George IV, producing satirical prints which criticised the king and his conduct. In this letter, Marks writes to Joseph Calkin, a violinist who also acted as unofficial royal censor, to alert him to the planned publication of a satirical poem, Amoroso, or King of Little Britain. The accompanying advertisement makes clear that the poem is a thinly-veiled attack on George IV’s love affairs, a matter of endless public interest.

Calkin frequently paid printmakers and publishers to suppress satires which were critical of the king’s conduct. In this case, Marks may not even have started printing the poem: the threat of publication may have been enough to exact a fee. Although we do not know how much Marks was paid to suppress this work, it would have been a substantial sum in exchange for what was probably simply a letter, a sheet of letterpress, and the threat of ridicule.