A celebrated author?

Title page of Catalogue of Five Hundred Celebrated Authors of Great Britain, Now Living (1788).

Title page of Catalogue of Five Hundred Celebrated Authors of Great Britain, Now Living (1788).

Given that Macintosh and his book have, over the centuries, drifted into obscurity and are often altogether absent from historical studies of the Age of Revolution, I am always interested in contemporary sources that attest to the significance that he, and Travels, had to eighteenth-century readers. One such source is the 1788 volume Catalogue of Five Hundred Celebrated Authors of Great Britain, Now Living.

The entry for Macintosh is only short, just a single sentence, but his inclusion here nevertheless speaks to his relative importance (at least in the view of the book’s compiler, a Mr Abercrombie). Macintosh is herein described as “Author of Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa in two volumes octavo, which gave offence to some of our East Indian nabobs, and were answered by Captain Joseph Price”.

As with all such lists, of course, the inclusion or exclusion of particular individuals is an issue that arouses strong views. This was certainly true in relation to Abercrombie’s Catalogue; the book was subject to rather excoriating reviews in The Gentleman’s Magazine and The Monthly Review on this point and on the patchy biographical treatment of those listed.

Notwithstanding the apparent deficiencies of Abercrombie’s Catalogue, the fact that Macintosh was included at all is helpful in establishing his contemporary significance and celebrity.

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