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New article: After the Great Fire

Posted on 3 February 2017

Dr Mark Jenner on Valentine Knight and the rebuilding of London

A new article written by Dr Mark Jenner has been published in the Journal of British Studies. It explores Valentine Knight, print culture and the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire.

Histories of the Great Fire of London regularly mention and reproduce Valentine Knight's scheme for London's reconstruction, published in 1666, and note that he was imprisoned for his pains. His proposal, with new streets laid out on a rough grid and a canal through the heart of the city, has attained a walk-on part in longue durée histories of urban planning. However, Knight has remained a mysterious and little studied figure; the significance of his imprisonment and of the fact that his was the only scheme to be published remain unexplored.

By reconstructing his biography and discovering the reason for his incarceration, and by relating his and the other proposals for the rebuilding of the capital after the fire to the history of public opinion, Dr Jenner uses this episode to explore the tacit rules governing the discussion of public affairs in Restoration England. Further, by examining the publication history of all the immediate post-fire schemes for rebuilding London from 1666 to 1750, his article traces how architectural plans gradually became objects for critical discussion in the worlds of print and periodical.

Full article: Print Culture and the Rebuilding of London after the Fire: The Presumptuous Proposals of Valentine Knight, Journal of British Studies, 56(1).