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Iconic Moment No. 14 

Chatterton in Shoreditch

25 April 1770 - 31 May 1770 

Age: 17, Lodging with Mrs Ballance, Shoreditch

Chatterton first lodged in Shoreditch with Mrs Ballance, a relative, who shared the house with the main tenant, Mr Walmsley, and his wife, nephew and niece.


Poor Chatterton had to share a bedroom and a bed with the nephew, no wonder he sat up into the early hours writing, writing, writing, forever writing; is it any surprise too, that he lived here for only 5 weeks and 2 days, before seeking some privacy by moving to his own attic room in Brooke Street, Holborn.

The landlord of the Shoreditch house was Herbert Croft, author of Love and Madness - and so the plot thickens!

Croft, according to a letter he wrote to George Stevens in 1782, gained much of his knowledge about Chatterton from his tenants, he mentions Walmsley specifically. 


Croft used the knowledge gained from them, along with a number of Chatterton's personal letters, to thicken his plot of Love and Madness, and to make the book irresistible to 18th century readers.


Croft was not always a man to be trusted, he convinced Chatterton's sister, Mary, to lend him Chatterton's personal letters, with a promise to return them forthwith, instead he left town with the letters and included them in his book without the family's permission - the devil - but, by his devious methods we know a little more about Chatterton than we otherwise would.

Unfortunately I do not have an image  of the house in Shoreditch - can you help with this? The image I have chosen to use instead, is an 18th century engraving of Shoreditch church, which Chatterton would have visited while he was living with Mrs Ballance.

Chatterton's works while in Shoreditch, London.

25 April 1770 - 31 May 1770.

A total of just 37 Days.

There are around 23? works to consider during this period.

I have selected xxxxxx works* to show in their own panels below.:

In any case all of the works can be viewed by clicking the link [...example].


Authentic Works: 

To Sarah Chatterton 26 April [...view]
The Candidates
* Narva and Mored. An African Eclogue 2 May [...C12-1]
The Exhibition. A Personal Satire
A Song. Addressed to Miss C----am
To Sarah Chatterton, Cary et al 6 May 
To the Society at Spring Garden 
Decimus. To the Earl of H-------h
Decimus. To the P----- D----- of W-----,
To Sarah Chatterton  14 May 
Decimus. To the Prime Minster,
Libertas. A Card. To Old Slyboots,

Decimus. An Exhibition of Sign Paintings,
* Probus to the Lord Mayor [...C12-2]
* Elegy 3, to Maria [...C12-3]
Decimus. To the Freeholders of the City of Bristol
To Mary Chatterton 30 May 

Works of Doubtful Authenticity (woda):  

The Bacchanalian;

Letter 4 from a Hunter of Oddities; 

Letter 5 from a Hunter of Oddities;

Lines on Happiness;

The Prophecy

Lost Works (LOW):

Suggested Lost Works are difficult to date, see full list (LOW button)


Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton (WWAC):

Dick and Dolly, A Pastoral

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C12-1

Narva and Mored,

An African Eclogue 

Written 20 May 1770 - Published May 1770

Narva and Mored first published in The London Magazine in  May 1770, with the signature 'C,' Brooke Street, June 12.  Can't find my copy of London, so here is the 2nd printing from the 1778 edition of Chatterton's Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, which derives its text from The London Magazine.  The two editions  differ only in some additional punctuation in the 1778.  Click to view the 1778 edition [...view]

Panel C12-2

Iconic Moment No. 15 

Chatterton meets William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London.

Chatterton's Letter to the Lord Mayor

Chatterton certainly had confidence enough, and ideas big enough, at the age of 17, to manipulate a meeting with the Lord Mayor of London.  

His manipulation started with an article in the Middlesex Journal, written on the 18 May but not published until the 25th, the day after Beckford had the nerve to 'instruct' the King to dissolve parliament.  The timing was perfect, now when Chatterton asked to meet with the Lord Mayor he was welcomed as a political ally; little did they know that he was happy to write on 'both sides of the question,' he was a living version of Apostate Will.

Here is a boy who has a plan, he has gone from the disappointment of rejection by Walpole, to seeking the support of William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London and the talk of the whole of England. 

Chatterton must have been delighted with how things had gone; as can be seen by his letter home to Mary on the 30th May 1770, but he was to be thrown into fits of despair on the 21st June, when Beckford up and died out of the blue!  

The only known remnant of Chatterton's letter to Mary, 30 May 1770, is shown above. It is actually a single piece with writing on both sides of it. It is described in a presentation that Tom Routledge made to the Chatterton Society in 2003. 

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C12-3

Elegy 3 - To Maria

O! Quickly may the Friendly Ruin Fall 

Written & Published May 1770

Elegy 3, To Maria, O! Quickly may the Friendly Ruin Fall.  It seems that the  version in this magazine differs from the handwritten transcript in Bristol Reference Library, which is the only copy in manuscript form.

This is one of my favourite poems, which probably means I am a pleb - I knows what I likes and I likes what I knows!


Click the link to read the first printing, which was in the Town and Country Mag. [...view]

Click the Link to read the 'original'  [ link yet]  Reference Library is closed, so it will be sometime during 2021.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - We're going to need a bigger Website! (.Q.)