“Trial by Media: The Queen Caroline Affair,” the joint exhibition of the Lewis Walpole Library and the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, is now available online in the Yale University Library Online Exhibitions site. The colorful exhibition documents the media frenzy provoked two centuries ago by the attempt of King George IV of England to divorce his consort Queen Caroline on the grounds of adultery.
Drawing on the Lewis Walpole Library’s strengths in graphic satire and the Law Library’s collections of trial accounts and illustrated legal texts, “Trial by Media” examines the role of print media in documenting the Queen Caroline affair and shaping public perceptions. The items range from mocking caricatures to political screeds and sober, journalistic accounts. Today these sources serve as a lens for studying gender roles, class divisions, publishing, political satire, and British politics.
In addition to digital text and images of the Fall 2019 exhibition, the digital version includes a collection of ten scholarly essays, many of which were presented at an October 4, 2019 conference in the Yale Law School. There is also a bibliography of works on the Queen Caroline Affair.
A special attraction of the online exhibit is a digital reproduction of the Humphrey Shop Album, created by prominent London satiric print publisher George Humphrey (1773?-1831?) to market prints to his clients. Virtually all of its 131 hand-colored prints are contemporary satires of the Queen Caroline scandal by artists such as George Cruikshank, Robert Cruikshank, and Theodore Lane. The survival of this shop album in its original binding is itself extraordinary, as most such albums have been broken up and sold as individual prints by later dealers. The album is one of the treasures of the Lewis Walpole Library.
“Trial by Media: The Queen Caroline Affair” was co-curated by Cynthia Roman, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings at the Lewis Walpole Library, and Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library. The online exhibition was designed by Kristen McDonald of the Lewis Walpole Library.
The political queen that Jack loves: with thirteen cuts (London: Printed and published by Roach & Co., 1820). Illustrations by George Cruikshank. Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.