The Political Alphabet


William Hone's biting satire The Political Alphabet, with illustrations by George Cruikshank, was originally produced around 1820 during the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre in August 1819. It is a response to intense social unrest that derived from factors including extreme poverty and the lack of political representation for many thousands of British people. Hone and Cruikshank target the pillars of power: the King, parliament, law, the church and the aristocracy. This issue dates from around 1830, but its messages would still have resonated with those campaigning for political reform. It was not until 1832 that the first Reform Act was passed in parliament, enabling a new portion of adult men to vote.

Full title:
The Political Alphabet. With notes and illustrations. Embellished by thirty-two engravings, from designs by George Cruikshank.
estimated 1830, London
Pamphlet / Illustration / Image
anonymous [believed to be William Hone], George Cruikshank [illustrator]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The Peterloo Massacre

Article by:
Ruth Mather
Romanticism, Power and politics

In August 1819 dozens of peaceful protestors were killed and hundreds injured at what became known as the Peterloo Massacre. Ruth Mather examines the origins, response and aftermath of this key early 19th century political event.

An introduction to 'The Masque of Anarchy'

Article by:
John Mullan

Professor John Mullan analyses how Shelley transformed his political passion, and a personal grudge, into poetry.

Related collection items

Related works

'The Masque of Anarchy'

Created by: Percy Bysshe Shelley

A poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) in 1819. In August of that year, a huge but peaceful crowd of ...