The Profligate Son: Or, A True Story of Family Conflict, Fashionable Vice, and Financial Ruin in Regency Britain

The Profligate Son: Or, A True Story of Family Conflict, Fashionable Vice, and Financial Ruin in Regency Britain

by Nicola Phillips

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Foppish, impulsive, and philandering: William Jackson was every Georgian parent's worst nightmare. Gentlemen were expected to be honorable and virtuous, but William was the opposite, much to the dismay of his father, a well-to-do representative of the East India Company in Madras. In The Profligate Son, historian Nicola Phillips meticulously reconstructs William's life from a recently discovered family archive, describing how his youthful misbehavior reduced his family to ruin. At first, William seemed destined for a life of great fortune, but before long, he was indulging regularly in pornography and brothels and using his father's abundant credit to swindle tradesmen. Eventually, William found himself in debtor's prison and then on a long, typhus-ridden voyage to an Australian penal colony. He spent the rest of his days there, dying a pauper at the age of thirty-seven.

A masterpiece of literary nonfiction as dramatic as any Dickens novel, The Profligate Son transports readers from the steamy streets of India, to London's elegant squares and seedy brothels, to the sunbaked shores of Australia, tracing the arc of a life long buried in history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465037742
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 08/27/2013
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 9 - 18 Years

About the Author

Nicola Phillips is a lecturer in history at Kingston University, London, and author of Women in Business. She lives in Surrey, England.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Credits viii

A Note About Money and Financial Values ix

Maps x

Introduction: The Profligate Heir xiii

1 The Sins of the Fathers: India and England, 1798-1805 1

2 An Improper Education: Home, School, and Sponging House, 1805-1807 21

3 Lessons in Love and Life in London: London and Reading School, 1808 45

4 An Officer and a Gentleman: London and Guernsey, 1809-1810 71

5 Boarding the Fleet: London Debtors' Prisons, 1810-1812 95

6 To the Brink of Destruction: London, 1812 121

7 A Mansion of Misery: Newgate and the Old Bailey, 1812 143

8 Cheltenham and Gloucester Unmasked: Town and Jail, 1812-1813 167

9 Retribution: Woolwich Hulks, 1813 189

10 The Nature of a Contagious Distemper: Transportation, 1814 213

11 Of Gentlemen and Convicts: Australia, 1814-1820 237

12 Ruined Suitors: Australia and England, 1820-1828 259

Epilogue 273

Acknowledgments 279

Notes 281

Selected Bibliography 313

Index 325

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