This book attempts to decipher and describe the life of William Beckford, one of the most remarkable British lives of the eighteenth century. Contemporaries were fascinated by the contrasts his career offered. Born into the riches of the Jamaican plantocracy, he rose to prominence in the mother country as a crusading lord mayor of London, even defying King George III in an audience long remembered by London radicals. Famous in his own time as a passionate speaker, he defended both the historic liberties of Englishmen and the colonists' right to enslave. A staunch critic of the affectation and corruption of the aristocracy, he outdid most of them by creating a mansion of remarkable splendor. These contrasts reflected the dynamic and often turbulent relations that Britain experienced with its colonies in its first great age of empire.
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