Thursday 11 December 2014

Edmund Curll: A Saucy Publisher!

Edmund Curll (c. 1675 – London, England, 11th December 1747)

Saucy books have recently become very vogueish if, indeed, they ever fell from favour, with any number of lewd literary offerings currently crowding the shelves of bookshops. Today we mark the death of Edmund Curll, writer of scandalous and entirely unauthorised biographies and publisher of a handful of the notorious Merryland books. This peculiarly Georgian genre was highly popular for a period in the eighteenth century and remains entertaining today, though not necessarily for the right reasons.

Merryland frontpiece

The Merryland books came into being in the 1680s and described the female body in topographical terms, charting the hills and valleys, highways and byways of the feminine, lyrical form. As you can see from the extract below, one could never accuse the authors of such works of subtlety!
"I shall conclude this Chapter of the Soil of MERRYLAND by saying, "her Vallies are like Eden, her Hills like Lebanon, her Springs like Pisgah, & her Rivers as Jordan; that she is a Paradise of Pleasure, & Garden of Delight..."
Curll gathered together existing Merryland material and published collections that proved to be big sellers, including a collection of maps that followed the theme! Apart from Merryland, Curll's dedication to publishing scurrilous poems and biographies earned him the enmity of Alexander Pope; he endured time in the pillory and even prison yet none of this did anything to dissuade him from his business.

Although Curll also published plenty of serious literature, it is for his more notorious works that he is remembered. He certainly was a true Georgian character!


Debra Brown said...

Dare you not show us the maps, Madame?

Catherine Curzon said...

I have young visitors!