A Penny Worth o’ Creativity and a Saucerful of Secrets:
A Culture of Collaborative Authorship, Intellectualism, and Urban Inspiration in the Coffee-Houses of Eighteenth-Century London (Thesis)
RJ Harvilicz, Spring 2016
Director: Orianne Smith
Committee Members: Jean Fernandez and Amy Froide
This thesis traces the intellectual arc of the eighteenth century London coffee-house from its rise, to the height of influence, to the inevitable fall from prominence. Harvilicz argues that a strong reactionary literary Romanticist movement founded in the work of William Wordsworth has largely erased all trace of a vibrant intellectual coffee culture founded in the early Empirical Baconian Methodology and refined in the work of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. He argues that the eighteenth-century coffee-house deserves in-depth treatment for the rare glimpse it provides into a dynamic and collaborative writing culture, which flouted societal norms and empowered any man who entered the establishment.