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25 April - 31 May 1770 -  A total of 37 Days

Age 17, Lodging with Mrs Ballance

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Shoreditch in 1755

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St Leonard's Church Shoreditch

It is Thursday 26th April, 1770 and Chatterton is now in Shoreditch and on a mission. It is clear that he intends to do all he can to make a success of his new start. It seems he arrived in time to visit four magazine editors and he mentions them all in a letter to his Mother : Mr Edmunds of the Middlesex Journal; Mr Fell of the Freeholder's Magazine; Mr Hamilton of the Town & Country Magazine; and Mr Dodsley of the Annual Register

Is it likely that Chatterton would make his visits to these illustrious editors without first writing to them? I think not. We do have the two extant letters that Chatterton wrote to Dodsley, but that was back in December 1768, and February 1769.  It makes complete sense to write to the editors pre-empting his visit to London on the 26th April 1770.

Hogarth - Tom King's Coffee House
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Tom King's Coffee House. Hogarth 1730s.

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Tom King's Coffee House, interior, Hogarth

The Hogarth engravings give a taste of what Chatterton had to look forward to when he started visiting the coffee shops of London. 

In the small engraving, a young man holding a book heads for the door of a coffee house, it certainly resembles a stocky Chatterton (as described by his sister), but it can't be Chatterton as the image dates to before Chatterton's birth. 

It has been said that Hogarth sketched Chatterton, which is also impossible as Hogarth was dead by 1764.  Perhaps this claim refers to Hogarth's generic picture of 'The Distrest Poet,' 

Chatterton's Lodgings in Shoreditch
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No. 48 Shoreditch built on the site of the house Chatterton lived in.

Chatterton lodged in Shoreditch with Mrs Ballance, a relative, who was herself a lodger of the main tenant, Mr Walmsley, who lived in the house with his wife and a nephew and niece.

Chatterton needed space and privacy, instead he shared the nephew's bed.

No Wonder he sat up writing into the early hours; writing, writing, forever writing.

It can't have been much of a surprise when, 37 days later and desperate for privacy, he moved to a private attic room, in Brooke Street. 

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

In a letter that Croft wrote to Stevens in 1782, he states he got much of his knowledge about Chatterton from his tenants. He mentions Walmsley specifically. 

Croft used the knowledge he gained, along with Chatterton's personal letters to enhance the plot of Love and Madness. The book became irresistible to 18th century readers, going through five or more editions in the 1780s alone.


It is obvious that Croft was not always a man to be trusted. He convinced Chatterton's sister to lend him Chatterton's letters & promised to return them forthwith, instead, the devious devil left town with the letters. Yes his methods were devious and underhand, it's true, but so much of what we know of Chatterton is thanks to Herbert Croft.

Links to All Works & Correspondence

   Call it what you will, authentic, doubtful, lost, or plainly wrong - if it was linked with Chatterton it will be included in Chatterton's Works & Correspondence.  This will be the base point from which we can examine every piece of work, and add notes and links accordingly.  

  • 1 : Authentic Works  : View all Works

  • 1 :  Authentic Works at Shoreditch : View

  • 2 : Lost Works  :  View                                                

  • 3 : Works of Doubtful Authenticity   :  View

  • 4 : Wrongly Attributed Works   :   View

  • 5  : All Correspondence in Chronological Order  :   View

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