PhD candidate in British literature and culture
Department of British and North American Studies, University of Greifswald
British contemporary literature; post-colonial studies; gender and ecology discourses.
A well-travelled man, Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despencer, was a founding member of the Dilettanti and the Divan Club, and a vital contributor to the proliferation of neo-classicism in eighteenth-century London. He is best known for inciting the lurid imagination of Grub Street through the creation of the Brotherhood of St. Francis, a secret society which has since come to be known as the Hell-fire Club.
The eighteenth century saw a proliferation of so-called Hell-fire Clubs, the members of which were invariably accused by society of promoting heavy drinking, sexual license, blasphemy, and Satanism, even if reality differed considerably from club to club.
Falling into a long tradition of violent gatherings such as the Tityre Tu, the Bugles, or the Damned Crew, a group of ‘gentlemen’ called the Mohocks was rumored to have terrorized London’s streets in the Spring of 1712. While little evidence exists for the Mohocks being an organized group with a shared motif of mischief-making, rumors nevertheless put the violent outbursts attributed to them into the context of a club-like structure, thereby creating a curious case of asocial sociability.