Main content

Rehabilitating the Reverend John Trusler

Sophie Coulombeau challenges the way we look at failure in the story of an 18th century cleric and entrepreneur. Recorded with an audience at the York Festival of Ideas 2018.

Sophie Coulombeau tells the story of John Trusler, an eccentric Anglican minister who was the quintessential 18th-century entrepreneur. He was a prolific author, an innovative publisher, a would-be inventor, and a 'medical gentleman' of dubious qualifications. Dismissed by many as a conman and scoundrel, today, few have heard of the man but his madcap schemes often succeeded, in different forms, a century or two later. In his efforts we can trace the ancestors of the thesaurus, the self-help book, Comic Sans, professional ghostwriting, the Society of Authors, and electrotherapy. New Generation Thinker Sophie Coulombeau argues that telling his story can help us to reinterpret and rehabilitate the very idea of 'failure'.

Recorded with an audience at the York Festival of Ideas 2018.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by the BBC and the AHRC to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.
Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Available now

14 minutes

Last on

Mon 7 Oct 2019 22:45


Featured in...

The Book that Changed Me

The Book that Changed Me

Five figures from the arts and science introduce books that changed their lives and work.

Download The Essay

Download The Essay

Download all the episodes from the series and listen at your leisure.