William Macintosh was an eighteenth-century Scottish merchant, Caribbean plantation owner, world traveller, and controversial author of Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa (1782). He was a product of empire, but also sought to shape and influence Britain’s imperial project through persuasion and publication. This blog is a record of my efforts to recover Macintosh from the shadows and to throw new light onto his life and work in the production of a monograph provisionally entitled The power of print: William Macintosh and the transnational circulation of radical ideas in the Age of Revolution.

Macintosh’s life was one lived through the Republic of Letters and during the Age of Revolution. The list of those who met, read, or corresponded with Macintosh—Louis-Antoine, Comte de BougainvilleJacques Pierre BrissotEdmund BurkeAaron BurrOlaudah EquianoCharles FoxPhilip FrancisCatherine GrandWarren HastingsJohann Gottfried HerderThomas JeffersonAdam SmithWilliam Pitt the Younger, and George Washington, among many others—signals to his significance to the intellectual and political life of the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

I am Reader in Historical Geography and Director of Graduate Studies (Admissions and Recruitment) in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Publications emerging from the project

Keighren, Innes M. “The confiscated library of William Macintosh in the Bibliothèque municipale d’Avignon”. The Library: The Transactions of The Bibliographical Society (forthcoming).

Keighren, Innes M. “A contested vision of empire: anonymity, authority, and mobility in the reception of William Macintosh’s Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa (1782)”. In Empire and mobility in the long nineteenth century, edited by David Lambert and Peter Merriman. Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming.

Keighren, Innes M. “Circulating seditious knowledge: the ‘daring absurdities, studied misrepresentations, and abominable falsehoods’ of William Macintosh”. In Mobilities of knowledge, edited by Heike Jöns, Peter Meusburger, and Michael Heffernan, 67–83. Cham: Springer, 2017. [PDF]

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