Monday, 8 June 2009

Thomas Paine

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography mailing list reminds me that the old revolutionary author died 200 years ago today. He had the melancholy distinction of being rejected by the two régimes he inspired. He was imprisoned by the Jacobins in post-revolutionary Paris (from which he was rescued by friends in the independent United States). Finally settled in America, he died in financial straits. His burial was mourned by his negro servant, by his companion Madame Bonneville, her son Benjamin, and a handful of local people.

Kenneth Griffith made one of his remarkable one-man dramatisations for TV of the life of Paine. He probably saw in Paine a fellow-member of the awkward squad.

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