Mocking the twits of the 19th century

Prince Regent by George CruikshankTwitter is a thorn in the side of the courts today, with the superinjunctions row, but in the early 19th century the publisher William Hone used the communications technology of his day — pamphlets and cartoons — to keep one step ahead of the law.

Jonathan Freedland looks at these seditious cartoons, and takes a trip to the Cartoon Museum to view the work of George Cruikshank, in the first in a new series of Radio 4’s The Long View.

This 1819 caricature of the Prince Regent by Cruikshank, right, is from Hone’s The Political House that Jack Built. Freedland finds that as with Twitter today, information spread through the populace far ahead of the law’s ability to keep up with it, via the collaboration between Hone and Cruikshank.

The Long View is on BBC Radio 4 at 9.30pm tonight, and is available on the BBC iPlayer now. It is also available as a podcast for 30 days.

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