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Junius

Junius, English political author, known only by the signature Junius, which he signed to various letters written to the London Public Advertiser from Jan., 1769, to Jan., 1772, attacking George III and his ministers. The letters, centering on John Wilkes and the controversy over the Middlesex election, were written by a passionate opponent of the government familiar with secret government matters. Junius used scandal and invective rather than argument as his major tools of attack. The letters were reprinted by the publisher of the Advertiser in 1772, and a new edition, with additional letters, appeared in 1812. Although the identity of Junius has never been definitely established, the political beliefs, handwriting, and life of Sir Philip Francis have led many to ascribe the authorship to him. Arguments have also been offered in favor of the authorship of Lord Shelburne and of Laughlin Macleane, British army surgeon and secretary to Shelburne.

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Junius

Junius 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

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