Published 17 October 2012

Now Available! An Apology for the Life of Major General Gunning

His wife was a successful novelist, his daughter was the beautiful and talented Elizabeth Gunning who was later to translate Bernard de Fontenelle's Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds. Mentioned in despatches at Bunker Hill, brother to the Duchess of Argyle and the Countess of Coventry, John Gunning seemed to occupy an enviable position in Georgian society. When a scandal arose relating to forged letters from the Marquess of Blandford to his daughter, he threw both her and his wife out of the house to protect his own reputation. Ironically, it was to prove the genesis of his downfall.

Soon his profligacy and debauchery would lead to his imprisonment for debt, his prosecution for Criminal Conversation (adultery) and his banishment to France, then Italy.

This extraordinary account in his own words is less an apology than a handbook of seduction, and shows his willingness to besmirch the reputations of his wife, his daughter and his current mistress in a vain attempt to protect himself. Even today, Gunning's Apology is both shocking and unintentionally amusing.

Of particular interest to readers of Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds will be new material about Elizabeth Gunning and the ‘Gunning Mystery’. Gerrish Gray has found important clues to the perpetrator of the forged letters.

The Tiger of the Stripe edition is the first new one (as opposed to a straight reprint) since the original publication in 1792. It contains an introduction, notes and index.

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