Gay History: S.W. Fores and the ‘Arse-Bishop’ – Scandal at the Printshop Window

The Printshop Window

Concerns about the potential dangers associated with the public display of caricature prints were raised almost as soon as printsellers’ windows became features of note among eighteenth-century urban landscape. The critics ranged from those who simply saw displays of satirical prints as a crowd-drawing nuisance, to those who considered them to pose a fundamental threat to the moral and spiritual wellbeing of the nation. Those who fell into the latter group often described caricatures as if they possessed a hypnotic quality and were capable of seizing hold of the minds of those who happened to pass by the printsellers window and corrupting them.

This argument was clearly articulated by one critic, calling himself ‘Perambulator’, whose thoughts on the subject were published in the Morning Post and Daily Advertiser of 5th September 1780. The author claims to have observed the crowds passing before the window of “the large [print] shop in St Paul’s Churchyard”…

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