Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the relationship between satire and the law during the eighteenth century. After the lapse of pre-publication licensing in 1695, satirists remained subject to the common law of libel (including seditious libel, blasphemous libel, and criminal libel) and to treason laws. Satirists and publishers used various strategies to evade prosecution under those laws: most notably anonymous publication (in print or in manuscript) and creative forms of ambiguity. This chapter surveys examples of those strategies in some famous and lesser known texts, before considering the introduction of the new Licensing Act in 1737, which restricted satire on the stage. Libel prosecutions continued even while the trend for hard-hitting lampoons faded out after the 1750s, but predominantly as a means of prosecuting political troublemakers.

Keywords: satire, law, seditious libel, licensing, Jonathan Swift, anonymity, innuendo, Henry Fielding, John Wilkes

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.