Memoirs of a Social Monster

Posted on 7th November 2019 by simonbeattie

Who doesn’t love a good ‘escroc’?

In our most recent e-list, we included the first edition in French of the lowlife biographical Memoirs of a Social Monster; or the History of Charles Price; otherwise Bolingbroke, otherwise Johnson, otherwise Parks, otherwise Wigmore, otherwise Brank, otherwise Wilmott, otherwise Williams, otherwise Schutz, otherwise Trevors, otherwise Polton, otherwise Taylor, otherwise Powel, &c. &c. &c. and commonly called Old Patch (London, 1786).  Charles Price (d.1786) was a scandalous bank note forger and general crook who, it would seem, neither the English nor the French could get enough of.

Title-page and folding frontispiece of the first French edition.

The book was published to warn ‘thoughtless youth from the destructive way of wickedness’, and begins with an ‘Invocation to Lucifer’, playing to the outrageous and disreputable character of the infamous Charles Price, who had hanged himself in Bridewell Prison before his case came to trial. We presume the statement on the title here that it was translated from the ‘sixth edition’ is an instance of mention fictive.

For more on this item, and to see what we are bringing to the upcoming Boston Book Fair, check out our latest e-list of largely recent acquisitions.

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