The Paper Chase

Joseph Hone


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Vintage Publishing
5 November 2020
ISBN: 9781784743062
272 pages

From the publisher

"A remarkable achievement" Spectator

An adventure story of politics, philosophy and printing from the age of Queen Anne

In the summer of 1705, a masked woman knocked on the door of David Edwards's London workshop. She did not leave her name, only a package and a coded means of identifying her courier.

Edwards was a Welsh printer working in the dark confines of Nevill's Alley, outside the city walls. The package was an illegal, anonymous pamphlet: The Memorial of the Church of England. The argument it proposed threatened to topple the government, but sedition sold well in the coffeehouses of Fleet Street and the woman promised protection. Edwards swiftly set about printing and surreptitiously distributing the pamphlet.

Parliament was soon in turmoil and government minister Robert Harley launched a hunt for all those involved. When Edwards was nowhere to be found, his wife was imprisoned and the pamphlet was burnt in his place. The printer was not the only villain, though, and Harley had to find the unknown writers who wished to bring the government down.

Full of original research, The Paper Chase tears through the backstreets of London and its corridors of power as Edwards's allegiances waver and Harley's grasp on parliament threatens to slip. Amateur detectives and government spies race to unmask the secrets of the age in this complex break-neck political adventure. Joseph Hone shows us a nation in crisis through the fascinating story of a single incendiary document.

"An elegant blend of scholarship and detection that reanimates the dangerous, exciting, clandestine world of Fleet Street at the start of the modern age" Peter Moore, author of Endeavour