Biography of Rochester?

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samdancer
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Biography of Rochester?

Unread postby samdancer » Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:48 am

I'd like to know more about the Earl of Rochester and have been looking for a biography, can anyone recommend one? There seem to be quite a few on Amazon but I haven't seen any in bookshops I can have a look through. Hopefully someone has read one they can recommend! :goodvibes:

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Unread postby shadowydog » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:00 am

I have Graham Greene's Lord Rochester's Monkey which is quite good. I also have John Adlard's The Debt to Pleasure which is a compilation of Wilmot's writings plus mentions of him in the writings of his contemporaries..

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Unread postby KYwoman » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:41 am

I'd also recommend So Idle a Rogue by Jeremy Lamb.
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Unread postby trinni » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:57 am

I've read "A profane Wit" by James Johnson. Its the only one I've read but I found it very interesting.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:39 pm

Jackslady wrote a list with info on the books so she is the one to ask I can't find it anymore in the ONBC archive

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Unread postby samdancer » Thu Jun 28, 2007 1:06 pm

Thanks for the recommendations everyone! Sounds like there are some good ones available. And thank you Gilbert's Girl, with your information I found the list I think you were talking about, I did a search. http://johnnydepp-zone.com/boards/viewt ... =rochester

I didn't know The Libertine has been discussed, I'm going to read the archive on it now!

Thanks again all. :goodvibes:

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:06 pm

samdancer wrote:Thanks for the recommendations everyone! Sounds like there are some good ones available. And thank you Gilbert's Girl, with your information I found the list I think you were talking about, I did a search. http://johnnydepp-zone.com/boards/viewt ... =rochester

I didn't know The Libertine has been discussed, I'm going to read the archive on it now!

Thanks again all. :goodvibes:


Thats good, and enjoy the discussion :cool:

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Unread postby Jackslady » Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:28 pm

Hello samdancer and welcome :cool: :wave:

I am hugely into Rochester and have read several biographies. Here's a quick run-down for you:

John Wilmot Earl of Rochester by Germaine Greer
Good, basic book on the earl. A small paperback.
So Idle A Rogue by Jeremy Lamb
This is one of the books Johnny used in his own research for the earl. Lamb's biography takes a different line from many others, and it does contain various inaccuracies but it is an interesting read.
The Satyr by Cephas Goldsworthy
A pacy and very adult version of the earl's life - witty and incisive
A Profane Wit by James William Johnson
A very detailed and interesting biography, the amount of information given goes way beyond many other books

Further information:

The Debt to Pleasure by John Adlard
An interesting collection of the earl's writings and other items. This is one of the few books to print sections of the notorious play, the name of which I won't repeat here and a version of which is seen in The Libertine.
Reading Rochester edited by Edward Burns and Spirit of Wit by Jeremy Treglownalso Rochester by Marianne Thormahlen
These are academic books examining the earl's life and work
Rochester, The Critical Heritage by David Farley-Hills
This is a collection of views on Rochester, both as a man and a writer, by his contempories and many others. This includes much of Archbishop Burnet's famous account of Wilmot's life.
The Letters of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, edited by Jeremy Treglown
A selection of the earl's letters to his wife and friends. Contains a detailed biography.
That Second Bottle, Essays on John Wilmot edited by Nicholas Fisher
A collection of essays on the earl, an academic work, contains detailed analysis of many aspects of the earl's poems.

I hope this is of help to you or anyone else out there who is interested in Wilmot. I've noticed that amazon has considerably less books available now than they did around the time of The Libertine. I've had to wait awhile to aquire some of these books and have very often bought them second hand but it has been exciting to finally have them. Since I haven't had the benefit of a university level education I've found some of the more academic books quite hard to read, but I've persevered and have learned so much. I'm continuing to read and study the earl's life, I just can't get enough of him :blush:
"Easy on the goods darlin!"
"Tis not an easy thing to be entirely happy, but to be kind is very easy, and that is the greatest measure of happiness"-John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

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Unread postby samdancer » Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:00 pm

Thank you so much for that Jackslady! Very kind of you to write all that out. I'm going to note the titles down and go bookshopping tomorrow after work.

I have just spent a happy couple of hours in the archives reading discussions on The Libertine and haven't read it all by any means! I saw that one lady had done a tour and added some lovely photos. I wonder if you might be interested to see a photo I took yesterday morning to show a friend, of King's College in Cambridge where Billy Downs was educated. I suddenly realised it was right on my doorstep! (duh!)

College entrance:
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n232 ... 064629.jpg
College chapel:
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n232 ... 064556.jpg

Not very high quality photos I'm afraid but perhaps interesting nonetheless. It was founded in 1441. I wonder how many scholars have been counting angels on pinheads since then? :-P

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Unread postby samdancer » Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:38 am

Just wanted to say that I bought So Idle a Rogue, it was the only one I could find! So I'll see how I get on with that and then order from Amazon if I want more. I saw these ones about the period which looked interesting, although they only mention Rochester briefly:

Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s by Liza Picard

Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms, 1660-1685 by Tim Harris

King Charles II by Antonia Fraser

I realised I should have posted this question in the ONBC so I'm sorry about that! I'm finding my way around. :blush:

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:52 am

samdancer wrote:Just wanted to say that I bought So Idle a Rogue, it was the only one I could find! So I'll see how I get on with that and then order from Amazon if I want more. I saw these ones about the period which looked interesting, although they only mention Rochester briefly:

Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s by Liza Picard

Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms, 1660-1685 by Tim Harris

King Charles II by Antonia Fraser

I realised I should have posted this question in the ONBC so I'm sorry about that! I'm finding my way around. :blush:


I have King Charles II by Antonia Frazer but it doesn't so much give you so much background on the period more about the politics and Charles himself, its a very good book though, and Charles is my favorite monarch. It only mentions Rochester briefly. You are right though the other two do look interesting :cool:

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Unread postby Jackslady » Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:34 pm

Glad to help, samdancer :cool:

In my list I forgot to mention Graham Greene's Lord Rochester's Monkey, which is actually the first biography I read - it's excellent and another good place to start.

When I was in Oxford last year I found two or three of the biographies in Blackwell's bookshop. They possibly have a website/online ordering service? In a charity shop there I also found an old guidebook on Ditchley Park for 5op (!) and a local book detailing some of the history of Adderbury House.

I highly recommend Restoration London by Liza Picard for background information - it's a fascinating read
"Easy on the goods darlin!"
"Tis not an easy thing to be entirely happy, but to be kind is very easy, and that is the greatest measure of happiness"-John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

*Special thanks to es for help with my lovely avatar*

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Unread postby FANtasticJD » Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:51 pm

samdancer wrote:Just wanted to say that I bought So Idle a Rogue, it was the only one I could find! So I'll see how I get on with that and then order from Amazon if I want more.

Keep in mind when you read So Idle a Rogue that Lamb had a definite agenda when writing it: to prove that Rochester was an alcoholic and that explained everything he did. It's a good read and clearly Johnny was influenced by it in his interpretation but it's also a bit one-sided. Other biographers have disagreed quite strongly with Lamb so it's always good to read more than one biography on so controversial a subject. Fyi, Lamb was thanked in the film's credits. I personally liked the Greene bio Lord Rochester's Monkey best so far. The Germaine Greer bio is next on my reading list.
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Unread postby Jackslady » Sun Jul 01, 2007 11:45 am

FANtasticJD wrote:
samdancer wrote:Just wanted to say that I bought So Idle a Rogue, it was the only one I could find! So I'll see how I get on with that and then order from Amazon if I want more.

Keep in mind when you read So Idle a Rogue that Lamb had a definite agenda when writing it: to prove that Rochester was an alcoholic and that explained everything he did. It's a good read and clearly Johnny was influenced by it in his interpretation but it's also a bit one-sided. Other biographers have disagreed quite strongly with Lamb so it's always good to read more than one biography on so controversial a subject. Fyi, Lamb was thanked in the film's credits. I personally liked the Greene bio Lord Rochester's Monkey best so far. The Germaine Greer bio is next on my reading list.


Yes, So Idle A Rogue does differ quite a bit from the other biographies (Germaine Greer attacks it quite openly in her book!). One thing I have learned in reading the books is how open to interpretation many of the events of Rochester's life are. Although he left his poems and letters, many of these are difficult to date and their content open to conjecture.

His letters make for interesting reading and show that rather than matters sexual, he was often preoccupied with domestic matters, care for his family, his love for his children and various events concerning his estates. Clearly unwell for a good portion of his life, he reveals a fascination with cures and remedies.
"Easy on the goods darlin!"
"Tis not an easy thing to be entirely happy, but to be kind is very easy, and that is the greatest measure of happiness"-John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

*Special thanks to es for help with my lovely avatar*

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:36 pm

Jackslady wrote:Glad to help, samdancer :cool:

In my list I forgot to mention Graham Greene's Lord Rochester's Monkey, which is actually the first biography I read - it's excellent and another good place to start.

When I was in Oxford last year I found two or three of the biographies in Blackwell's bookshop. They possibly have a website/online ordering service? In a charity shop there I also found an old guidebook on Ditchley Park for 5op (!) and a local book detailing some of the history of Adderbury House.

I highly recommend Restoration London by Liza Picard for background information - it's a fascinating read


They do have a website which I believe also offers to find books which are not readily available .


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