Joseph Hone is a writer, literary scholar, and historian. He is the author of The Paper Chase, a work of narrative history which investigates a three-hundred year old mystery involving an anonymous sectarian pamphlet, a masked woman, a down-on-his-luck printer, and a plot to overthrow the government. His first book, Literature and Party Politics at the Accession of Queen Anne, was shortlisted for the 2018 University English Book Prize. His latest scholarly book, Alexander Pope in the Making, was published in 2021 by Oxford University Press. In 2022 he won the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Literature and Language for his work in literary studies and book history.
Specialising in the political writing of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Joseph completed his doctoral research at Oxford in 2015. As a graduate student he was appointed both senior scholar and lecturer at Jesus College, Oxford, before being elected to the Lumley Fellowship in the Humanities at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 2014 he held the Katharine F. Pantzer Jr. Fellowship in Descriptive Bibliography at Harvard; in 2018 the James M. Osborn Fellowship in English Literature and History at Yale; and in 2019-20 a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Institute of English Studies in London. He is a member of the Bibliographical Society, the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the Johnson Club. Since 2019 he has held an Academic Track Fellowship at Newcastle University, where he researches and teaches all aspects of eighteenth-century literature and book history. He has also contributed research and on-screen expertise to several factual television programmes, most recently with Fiona Bruce on Treasures of the British Library (Sky Arts).
It was as an undergraduate at Oxford that Joseph was first introduced, through the writings of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, to the rough-and-tumble world of eighteenth-century Britain. That world continues to fascinate him. Since his days as a student, Joseph’s archival research has led to discoveries about various major figures including Pope, Isaac Newton, Lord Bolingbroke, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Johnson. (A full list of these academic writings can be found on his faculty webpage.) These individual findings feed into broader questions about the communication of political ideas during the period that has become known as the ‘Enlightenment’. In particular, Joseph has become interested in the clandestine trade in secret and illicit books during this period, a period which is conventionally associated with the opening up of political debate and the rise of a public sphere. This theme was partially addressed in his first book, Literature and Party Politics. A more ambitious attempt to grapple with these question forms the core of his current scholarly project, a book entitled Secret Print in Enlightenment England. While exploring the papers of Robert Harley as part of this project, Joseph came across the documents which form the backbone of The Paper Chase.