9 March 1763
– 18 June 1835
Painting possibly by George Cooke.
Oil on canvas, circa 1831
©National Portrait Gallery
WILLIAM COBBETT c1830
By courtesy of the
Museum of Farnham
Three important videos from the William Cobbett Anniversary year -
The William Cobbett Society was founded in 1976 to bring together those who have an interest in the life and writings of William Cobbett. A passionate defender of the freedom of the press Cobbett was prepared to defend it at the cost of imprisonment and exile.
'He is not only unquestionably the most powerful political writer of the present day, but one of the best writers in the language. He speaks and thinks plain, broad, downright English'. The only time I ever saw him he seemed to me a very pleasant man: easy of access, affable, clear-
Hazlitt's Essay on Cobbett, published in his table talk,1821
The Society’s Activities:
Among the Society's activities are:
An Annual Rural Ride
A coach expedition was undertaken by members in July, retracing with readings and commentaries, routes taken by Cobbett on his Rural Rides.
In 2017 the date is to be announced
The annual publication of a journal, Cobbett's New Register
containing articles on various aspects of Cobbett's life and times, including the text of the Annual Memorial Lecture.
In association with the Society, the Museum of Farnham holds in its Reading Room an almost complete set of bound volumes of Cobbett's Political Register and a large collection of Cobbett's works, and books about Cobbett. Various Cobbett artefacts are on display. Click to see list of books.
Sale of Books (See Books for sale)
A Cobbett Statue for Farnham
The unveiling of the William Cobbett Statue by Dame Penelope Keith took place on Monday September 5th at 11am. The statue is currently is located in front of the new Hawthorn Lodge Flats in Longbridge, Farnham
The 2016 William Cobbett Annual Memorial Lecture
Over 200 people were at the Maltings on Friday,7th October 2016 to hear Owen Jones, the radical journalist and author of ‘The Establishment: and How They get Away With It’ – respond to the views of Farnham’s own 19th Century radical, William Cobbett, at the William Cobbett Society annual lecture.
Bernard Whelan played an impressive William Cobbett in a style appropriate to the age and the man – using a clear and witty script created by Luath Grant Ferguson to project Cobbett’s own words. Owen Jones responded in his own fluent and persuasive style to the issues raised.
Powerful quotes from Cobbett – ‘To be poor and independent is well nigh an impossibility’; ‘The power of money is the power of the bludgeon and the bayonet’ – were followed by a passionate and informed critique by Owen Jones of today’s problems.
There were some areas where Cobbett’s views did not readily match a 20th Century or left wing analysis: Cobbett had no problem with the rich as long as, ‘noblesse oblige’, they looked after their people; and Cobbett had a real hatred of the system of credit (paper money) and a large National Debt (paid off, he saw, by taxes on the poor paying interest to the rich). It would have been interesting to hear Owen Jones pick up on these differences.
Owen Jones did, however, partly in response to questions from the audience, add persuasive and heartfelt views on the increasing disadvantages facing the young (for example through tuition fees and house prices) and commented on how much still needed to be done to improve the position of women in society.
Richard Thomas, Chairman of the William Cobbett Society, did an excellent job managing Cobbett, Owen Jones and the audience – as well as coping with the impressive use of technology, set up by the Maltings and UCA together, to ‘stream’ the event from the Tindle room to 100 people in the Barley room. It has also been broadcast on YouTube and the Internet, where the proceedings can still be viewed by clicking on link below:
See the whole evening on the marvelous You Tube video made by UCA students. Click here