JUNIUS. "Junius" was the pen name of an unknown British writer who launched political attacks on the duke of Grafton, the duke of Bedford, and George III and defended the popular cause of John Wilkes. His most notable series appeared in the London Public Advertiser between January 1769 and January 1772. The writer has never been identified, but he was clearly a Whig of the Chatham-Grenville faction with access to secret government matters. There is evidence, from handwriting and political outlook, that Junius was Sir Philip Francis (1740–1818), first clerk in the War Office when the series started.
SEE ALSO Chatham, William Pitt, First Earl of; Grenville, George; Wilkes, John.
revised by Harold E. Selesky
was the pseudonym adopted by the unknown author of 69 letters to the Public Advertiser
between 1769 and 1772. After an unspectacular start, they became a political sensation, boosting the sales of the paper and being widely reproduced. Junius moved from an exchange with Sir William Draper to repeated attacks upon the first minister, the duke of Grafton
, and at length to a celebrated and offensive letter to the king himself. Junius' staple diet was political and legal commentary, but the letters were enjoyed for their scandalous insolence, for the secrecy surrounding the author, and for the inside knowledge he appeared to possess. They are a remarkable example of the growing importance of the newspaper press. Dozens of people have been suggested as possible authors and many volumes devoted to unravelling the mystery, but the evidence points strongly to Philip Francis, then a senior clerk in the War Office.
J. A. Cannon