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Rehabilitating the Rev John Trusler

Recorded in front of an audience at the York Festival of Ideas hosted by Shahidha Bari. New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by the BBC & the AHRC to turn research into radio

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, from Cardiff University, argues that telling his story can help us to reinterpret and rehabilitate the very idea of 'failure'.

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18 minutes