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John Toland (1670-1722) Centenaries Web Project Introduced

posted 18 Mar 2018, 16:07 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 18 Mar 2018, 16:08 ]

The John Toland (1670-1722) Centenaries Web Project

John Toland, Irish-born rationalist philosopher
A new website dedicated to the life and work of the philosopher, John Toland (b. 1670), was launched recently. It forms the nucleus of a Centenaries Web Project that is being rolled out with a view to the impending 350th anniversary of Toland's birth, which will be observed on 30 November 2020 and the 300th anniversary of his death that follows less than two years later, in 2022.

John Toland was an Irish-born rationalist philosopher and freethinker of the early Enlightenment period. He made important contributions to the various fields of philosophy – in what today would be regarded as both the natural and social sciences. "If you would know more of him, search his writings," he wrote in a self-penned epitaph that appeared following his death.

The purpose of of this web-based project is to serve as a free, online resource and repository of knowledge pertaining to Toland, his writings, the times in which he lived and to the social movement that he, along with others, spearheaded and represented, with particular reference to the enduring legacy and effect.

John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic by J.N. Duggan
The organisers particularly encourage anyone who has an interest in these anniversaries "to get in touch with us, to ensure that they are properly observed and accorded the respect that they are due. We will do our best (without fear or favour) to publicise events that are taking place, using networks and channels of communication within our reach."

John Toland (1670-1722) website is owned and managed by The Manuscript Publisher, an Irish-based publishing services provider who have published, or otherwise made available, several works by or relating to John Toland, including J.N. Duggan's short biography and critical appraisal, Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic (2010).

This, however, is presented simply as a 'by-the-way' and not intended as an advertisement or an endorsement. It is stressed that correspondence is welcome from all quarters and all walks of life, including authors, publishers, educationalists, historical societies, groups and individuals who might see some aspect of their own interest or remit reflected in this initiative.

People interested in this web project are invited to keep in touch. If you would know more, visit the website. You can also follow on Facebook and on Twitter.

John Toland (1670-1722) Centenaries Web Project

Peter Owen, 1927-2016. RIP.

posted 5 Jun 2016, 15:37 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 18 Mar 2018, 16:05 ]

Peter Owen, 1927-2016. RIP.
- founder of Peter Owen Publishers has passed away -

posted 5 Jun 2016, 23:37
Peter Owen, 1927-2016. Founder of Peter Owen Publishers.
It was with sadness that we received the news that Peter Owen has passed away, peacefully on the morning of 31 May 2016, following a short illness. He had celebrated his 89th birthday in February. We extend our sympathies to his family and friends, including his colleagues at Peter Owen Publishers with whom we have enjoyed a warm relationship since the publication of Sophia of Hanover: from Winter Princess to Heiress of Great Britain, 1630 – 1714 in 2010.

Of course, in a long and distinguished career, a wide and eclectic range of titles were published under his imprint, including works by authors who include ten Nobel Prize winners among their ranks - an impressive achievement for an independent publisher. Full details of his life and career can be found in the obituaries that have appeared in the days since his passing (see the website of Peter Owen Publishers and also the Guardian and Telegraph), proving that he will be greatly missed and remembered around the world as a publisher who brought a host of brilliant writers into the English language.

We wish everyone associated with Peter and his publishing activities every success in the future, which we are sure will continue under the direction of his daughter, Antonia, who takes over the company that he founded in 1951.

On the Tercentenary of the Hanoverian Succession

posted 6 Mar 2014, 12:45 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 09:31 ]

On the Tercentenary of the Hanoverian Succession
by J.N. Duggan

posted 6 Mar 2014, 20:45
The 300th anniversary of the Accession of George I to the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland, which occurs on August 1st 2014, will probably be overlooked amidst the commemorations and remembrances of the First World War. This is understandable but, nevertheless, regrettable. Over the centuries, the Hanoverians have served their adopted realms well and Britain should be proud of them. The last eleven monarchs have borne different surnames: Welf, Wettin and Windsor, but they are all Hanoverians, since their succession to the throne of Great Britain was due, in each case, to their legitimate descent from the body of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, as had been laid down by the Act of Settlement of 1701.
Sophia of Hanover: Winter Princess by J.N. Duggan. Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 2010.

Their success in holding onto the Crown over three centuries, probably owes a great deal to the fact that they arrived with no illusions about their Divine Right, or entitlement to rule. They understood from the start that they were there only by the Will of Parliament - which, over the 19th and 20th centuries, gradually became the will of the people - and that they could be dismissed at any time, as easily as they had been summoned. Sophia did, in fact, have scruples about disinheriting her Stuart cousins, but she soon overcame them, believing that she and her descendants could succeed where James II and his Catholic progeny were doomed to failure.

In 1701, there were 54 people who had a greater right to the British throne, in strictly hereditary terms, than the House of Hanover, but then, the English throne had never been bound by strict rules of inheritance. William the Conqueror had, after all, been a bastard, with a very dubious title to the crown and the Tudor claim was equally tenuous. Furthermore, it was on account of their Tudor blood that the Stuarts based their own claim to the English crown.

In spite of being thirty-five years older than Queen Anne, Sophia was optimistic about her chances of mounting the throne, although she wrote to her niece, Ameliese, in June 1703:

“There is little likelihood that I will ever go to England. The Queen doesn’t want me and she may well live longer than I. ‘Krakende Wagens gaan lang’ (creaking wagons travel far) says the Hollander, and the healthy, as God be praised and thanked I am, often die first. Everything is in God’s hands. I keep myself as calm as I can, which preserves my health.”

However, she died (in her beloved garden at Herrenhausen, in her 84th year) on June 8th 1714, just 52 days before the Queen. Even the timing of her death facilitated her family in their aspirations. Had she died a few years earlier, the link between Hanover and Great Britain might have been seen as less compelling. If, on the other hand, she had survived long enough to actually be crowned Queen and set up her own court, that would have provided the Jacobites with innumerable opportunities to make mischief: especially as Sophia was accustomed to obey her eldest son in his position as Elector of Hanover, which she could not have been seen to do as Queen of Great Britain. Furthermore, George was a consummate politician, whereas Sophia, for all her intelligence, intellect and wit, was a political innocent and the dynasty might well have begun and ended with Queen Sophia.

For the last 300 years, her descendants have provided their subjects with a regal figurehead and rallying point in times of both triumph and tragedy. Over the centuries, they have transformed themselves, from German autocrats into thoroughly British constitutional monarchs, (who have, incidentally, gained a hundredfold in influence what they have lost in actual power). They have given their names and put a face to different periods of our history. The epithets Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian conjure up a far more evocative picture than the mention of actual dates.

The Hanovers have also conserved, preserved and added to our national heritage - George III deserves to be remembered for his additions to the Royal Library and The Royal Art Collection, rather than as the mad old King. Above all, they have provided stability and continuity for the Nation, and a fascinating family saga that has kept us all spellbound.

If only for their many contributions to the entertainment of the Nation, in the shape of Coronations, Royal Weddings, Royal Births, Royal Scandals, Royal Jubilees and even Royal Funerals, the Hanoverian tercentenary should not be allowed to pass unremarked!

J.N. Duggan's historical biography, Sophia of Hanover: Winter Princess published by Peter Owen Publishers, is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

New Edition of John Toland's An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover (1705)

posted 3 Dec 2013, 08:42 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 09:29 ]

An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover by John Toland (1670-1722)
- re-issued in print and e-book editions -

posted 3 Dec 2013, 16:42
A new edition of John Toland’s early 18th century pamphlet, An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover, has just been published in print and e-book editions by The Manuscript Publisher. It follows the publication late last year of Toland's 1714 pamphlet, Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland. Author and historical biographer, J.N. Duggan serves as General Editor for both of these publishing projects.
An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover by John Toland (1670-1722). General Editor: J.N. Duggan. Published by The Manuscript Publisher.

According to the book's publisher, "The appearance of this new edition will be of interest to students of Irish and European history of the early Enlightenment period, as well as anyone familiar with the life and work of one who has been described as 'Ireland’s forgotten philosopher'. Its availability in modern, accessible formats, will further popularise the writings of one who is largely unknown in the English-speaking world and sadly neglected in his home country."

John Toland was born in Co. Donegal in 1670. He achieved notoriety in his lifetime for his fiery polemics that challenged political and ecclesiastical authority of the day. At the same time, these Accounts also show him to be a capable chronicler and a keen social observer. Even after 300 years, they remain highly readable and continue to be cited by historians of the period.

"What we get from reading them is an engaging and accessible picture of life in those German courts, and of the people who inhabited them at the turn of the 17th to 18th Century." - J.N. Duggan, General Editor and author of John Toland: Ireland’s Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic (2010)

Forced to leave Ireland, following the controversy surrounding his first book, Christianity not Mysterious, Toland found himself in England, where he earned a living from writing, mainly as a pamphleteer championing various Whig causes. One such pamphlet, entitled Anglia Libera published in 1701, supported the Act of Settlement of the same year. This led to Toland being invited to travel to Hanover, as part of Lord Macclesfield's delegation, which delivered the Act to Sophia, Electress of Hanover. The Act named Sophia and her Protestant descendants as heirs to the British throne, should Queen Anne die without a successor.

In Hanover, Toland was well received, particularly by the Electress Sophia:

"... it was noted that during the daily walks around the gardens of Herrenhausen, Sophia and the Irishman would distance themselves from the attendant courtiers so that they could talk in private." - from John Toland ... by J.N. Duggan (2010)

He was also introduced to the court philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who thought him to be "a man of esprit and is not lacking in erudition, but he pushes things too far." (see J.N. Duggan, 2010)

Toland visited the court of Berlin the following year, where he made a similar impression on the Electress’s daughter, the Queen in Prussia, Sophia Charlotte. The two had a lot in common and struck up a warm friendship. Toland even addressed one of his books to her, Letters to Serena published in 1704. In the Accounts, she is referred to as having, "so just an Idea of Government, that in all Germany they call her the Republican Queen."

Toland’s support for the Hanoverian succession might appear to be at odds with his staunch Republican leaning, which expressed itself in opposition to the Divine Right of Kings. In common with other Whigs however, Toland based his support on the assumption that ultimately, real power would be vested in Parliament:

"I have always been, now am, and ever shall be persuaded that all sorts of magistrates are made for and by the people, and not the people for or by the magistrates ... and consequently that it is lawful to resist and punish tyrants of all sorts ... I am therefore avowedly a Commonwealth's man" - John Toland, Vindicius liberus (1702)

An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover; sent to a Minister of State in Holland by John Toland is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions, along with other works by Toland. J.N. Duggan's 2010 biography, John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic serves as a companion to this series. All of these titles are published by The Manuscript Publisher.

Book Review: Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1714)

posted 20 Oct 2013, 11:43 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 09:26 ]

Book Review: Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1714)
- "a work that might well be described as revolutionary" -

by Dr. Jordi Morillas
posted 20 Oct 2013, 19:43
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov maintained that, from a historical point of view, we can distinguish two types of men: the ordinary, i.e. one whose sole mission in life would be to procreate and maintain the species numerically; and the extra-ordinary, i.e. those distinguished by the fact that, going beyond the established rules and tradition, they pronounce a new word in their medium, thereby marking a turning point in the advancement of humanity.
Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1670-1722). Available to buy online in print and e-book editions.

The truth of Raskolnikov's theory can be seen in any creative field, e.g. philosophy, whose historical development has been shaped by a series of extraordinary individuals. Now, what is the criterion to discern whether these 'exceptional men' are actually liberators of the spirit and improvers of humanity? The answer to this question is provided by the work of John Toland (1670-1722) in his Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland, On the Same Foot with All Other Nations, written and published in 1714.

The purpose of Toland's essay is to publicly denounce the status of Jews in English society since the revolution of Cromwell, in order to vindicate the recognition of their rights and that they be granted full citizenship, in the same way as had already been done with all established Protestant sects, in both Britain and Ireland.

This defence of the Jews is based on Toland's theory, according to which every member of a community must participate actively in politics, in order to help improve and make more free the country in which they lives (pp. 5-7). While compliance with the law is essential in any human society, it should not, however be blind acquiescence. Rather, each free and independent citizen has the responsibility and duty to criticise and propose other laws, which may conform better with the good and happiness of the whole nation.

For this reason, the vindication of the Jewish people carried out in this work is not done with the intention of being 'populist', but with the sincere belief that one "may serve my Country: and I am inexpressibly pleas'd, that the most effectual way to do so, is the promoting of Humanity, and the doing good to all Mankind." (p. 7, cf. p. 24)

The reasons upon which Toland argues for naturalisation with full right for the Jews in Britain and Ireland fall into three categories: religious, economic and political.

Firstly, Toland reminds us in his Dedication that it is through the Jews that Europeans profess Christianity, because "by them, you are undeniably come to the knowledge of one God, from them you have received the holy Scriptures, of them is descended Moses and the Prophets, with Jesus and all the Apostles." (p. 1, cf. pp. 42-44)

As regards economics, Toland argued that the presence of Jews in a given territory has always been synonymous with wealth and prosperity, presenting as counter-examples the precarious fate of Spain and Portugal, after their expulsion. In this context, Toland echoes xenophobic prejudices of the common people, who claim that foreigners 'take bread out of their mouths' (p.32), arguing that the fact that more people engaged in the same activities facilitates not only the increase in goods and services, but also competition, thereby promoting improved supply and, above all, the lowering of retail prices. This is what Toland called the "Rule of More, and Better and Cheaper." (p. 33)

On the other hand, the Irish philosopher decisively combats the prejudice that Jews are exclusively devoted to trade and usury, exposing a series of empirical data that demonstrate their excellence in other areas and indicating that, if the Jews are characterised by their financial work, it is only because throughout history they have not bee allowed to perform any other activity. (pp. 14-16)

Next Toland denounces all historical persecution and accusations that have been carried out against the Jews (cf. p. 20-24), highlighting how they were rooted in superstitions and in prejudices introduced by priests, especially when they were allowed to participate in and decide on policy (cf p.12, 19 et seq.). Toland graphically defined the situation when, relying on another defender of the rights of the Jews, the Italian Simon Luzzatto, he classifies the historical enemies of the Jewish people as follows: "These are first the zealots, under whom may be listed Priests and Hypocrites; secondly Politicians, comprehending corrupt States-men, and drivers of private Interest; and thirdly the vulgar, who, under colour of religion or the public good, are acted, animated, and deluded by the other two, the better to serve their own sinister purposes." (p. 40, cf p. 23)

The consequences of hatred of the Jews can be observed, not only in societies that have expelled them from their midsts, but also in those in which they live to enjoy certain freedoms, such as Turkey or Poland. Thus, according to Toland, in these countries, although the Jews have properties and schools, "yet they are treated little better than Dogs in the first place, and are often expos'd in the last to unspeakable Calamities." (p. 35)

Once the traditional prejudices against the Jews have been confronted and rejected, Toland justifies their necessary naturalisation, arguing that, unlike other groups, Jews would not get mixed up in political or religious issues (cf. pp. 36-37) and would support "Liberty of Conscience" (p. 12) putting them on the same side as "Liberty and the Constitution". (p.13). Moreover, the Jews would never betray their host country by obeying a foreign authority or fighting for another country, since they don't have one, and so their faithfulness would be guaranteed and they would work for peace and social cohesion. (pp. 13-14).

Despite the economic and socio-political advantages of naturalisation of the Jews in Britain and Ireland, Toland is aware that his proposal to end the "strange stories of the danger of Judaizing" (p.44) will not be welcome within certain sections of society. However, he knows that he has done the right thing, as a member of a community and above all, as a philosopher: "I own that thus much I thought necessary to write, for the common benefit on this uncommon subject; and if I shou'd not meet with a general applause (in which case I shall not at all be disappointed) yet I cannot but enjoy the particular satisfactioin of having dischaged what I believ'd to be my duty: since with all wise and honest men, Humanity and good Nature are sure to atone for any defect in my Politics." (p. 45)

With these words, Toland ends a work that might well be described as revolutionary, since it seeks to address and eliminate a historical bias which has been - and still is today - a heritage not only of the public at large, but also of the intellectuals (cf. p.16). The unconditional struggle against all forms of prejudice, in order to free the human spirit, is the main characteristic of the philosophy of John Toland; a feature that distinguishes him from the vast majority of currently considered, great philosophers and provides the key to understanding why he is a virtually forgotten thinker.

This review has been translated from the Spanish original, which was first published in Daímon. Revista Internacional de Filosofía, nº 59, 2013

Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1670-1722) was first published in 1714. A new edition has been published in print and e-book formats by The Manuscript Publisher, which are available to buy online.

The General Editor for the project is J.N. Duggan, author of John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Scholar, Philosopher ... and Heretic, which is also available to buy online in print and e-book editions.

Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland (1714) by John Toland: New Edition Available in Kindle and Print-on-Demand

posted 19 Dec 2012, 14:04 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 09:23 ]

A New Edition of John Toland's 1714 pamphlet
- for the Emancipation and Equal Citizenship for the Jews of Britain and Ireland -

posted 19 Dec 2012, 22:04
Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1670-1722). General Editor: J.N. Duggan.
John Toland was a rationalist philosopher and freethinker of the early-Enlightenment who was born in Ireland in 1670. Though largely forgotten in his home country, Toland was and is a philosopher of international renown as well as a prolific writer on important political and religious issues of his day. As the website of the Humanist Society of Northern Ireland remarks:

No one has made a greater contribution to the development of Freethought in Ireland than John Toland (1670-1722), and it is the responsibility of the modern secular movement to publish and popularise his writings which have been sadly neglected in his own country and in Britain. Despite his reputation as a thinker and writer of the stature of David Hume, his work has been largely published in France, Holland and Germany, leaving him almost unknown in the English speaking world.

An important step in this direction has recently been made by the decision of The Manuscript Publisher to re-issue, in Kindle and print-on-demand editions, Toland’s highly influential 1714 pamphlet Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland.

Previously available only in facsimile copies, this new editon of Toland’s pamphlet has been faithfully reproduced from the original.. The text has been converted to a modern typeface but with original spelling, emphasis and formats preserved. The edition also contains an introduction, editor's notes and a chronology of Toland, his life and his times including the background to Jewish settlement in Britain in Ireland. This will be followed in the new year with a re-issue of Toland’s An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover

Author J.N. Duggan, who is serving as General Editor for both of these publishing projects, describes how she first came across the figure of John Toland while researching her biography of Sophia of Hanover (published in 2010 by Peter Owen of London):

Searching through other people’s bibliographies, I realised that he was the recognized source of information on the Courts of Hanover and Berlin in the first decade of the Eighteenth Century, and Chambers Biographical Dictionary informed me that he was an Irishman. ... The letters of Sophia and her friend Leibniz had already thrown an intriguing light on the character of the Irishman, but it was only when I was actually transcribing his descriptions of the courts etc. that I realised just how well they were written and, having by this time discovered the internet, I 'Googled' him. There wasn’t a great deal about him there, but the more I read the more intrigued I became and the more astonished that he was so little known in his native land.

It was this discovery which lead to her second book, also a biography entitled John Toland: Ireland’s Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic, which is also available to buy online from this website.

Toland's pamphlet is widely seen as a landmark work in the movement for emancipation and equal citizenship of the Jewish people. At the same time historian Jonathan Karp has argued that Toland's motivation is best understood "when situated in the political and intellectual context of Augustan England rather than hailed as political prophecy." (see website of Hebraic Political Studies)

However it may be viewed, this pamphlet shows Toland at his best as both a skilled and fearless controversialist.

"a dog will run at a stone, when he dares not attack the man that threw it. ... I am not ignorant how much the world is governed by prejudices, and how farr some, who wou'd not be counted of the vulgar, are yet sway'd by vulgar errors. ... But one rule of life, which is willingly admitted, nay, and eagerly pleaded by all Societies in their own case (tho miserably neglected in that of others) is, not to impute the faults of a few to the whole number.”

It is from such sentiments expressed that we can discern a general plea to tolerance and humanity that has echoed down to the present time and gained universal acceptance.

Reasons for naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland, On the same foot with all other Nations. Containing also A Defence of the Jews against All vulgar Prejudices in all Countries is currently available in Kindle and print-on-demand. For more information please visit our bookshop.

Press Statement on the First Anniversary of the Official State Visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II

posted 25 May 2012, 07:18 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 5 Jun 2016, 15:32 ]

Press Statement:
- One Year on from the Official State Visit and not much to show for it -

17 May, 2012

Today marks the first anniversary of the official state visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain. Widely regarded as a success, in addition to constituting an historical watershed, there appears nevertheless to be little formal acknowledgment in official circles of its importance and impact. 

Certainly that is what one group of publishers discovered when they attempted to bring out a souvenir album [see Note 1] to mark the first anniversary of the occasion. Despite assistance and expressions of support from various quarters including Áras an Uachtaráin, the Department of the Taoiseach, Buckingham Palace, the British Embassy in Ireland and others, the project eventually floundered. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have asserted copyright over all official photographs that were taken over the four days in May 2011, when for the first time in over a century, a reigning British monarch paid a visit to this part of the island of Ireland. It is understood that, for security reasons, other individuals and organisations were prevented from having their own photography at the various stages and events included in the itinerary of the official state visit. This would mean that the official photographs and video footage, over which the state claims ownership, represent the only permanent memento of the historic occasion. 

Reasons offered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for denying permission for official photos to be used in the format of a commemorative album include:  
  • Other parties involved in the visit might object to their use in this manner.
  • Individuals or entities might make a profit from what would be a commercial venture. [This apparently without regard for the fact that the country as a whole might benefit, not least through the export earning potential of such a product.]
  • They had not  foreseen that anyone would want to publish a print souvenir of the visit, so they had not made any provision for one.
According to Josephine Duggan, author of a highly praised biography of Sophia of Hanover, [see Note 2] who also acted as editor of the proposed souvenir album:
 "Surely these photos belong to the people of Ireland who paid through their taxes for the visit and made it such a success through their goodwill and interest. These photos should be made available to any citizen who wishes to put them to their proper use. The only purpose of publicity photos is to be publicised, and these photos show Ireland, its people and its produce at our very best. Why is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade so determined to keep them under wraps?" 
The decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade means that no durable souvenir exists of this visit, which generated international attention. It means that no effort is being made to build on what was achieved. [see Note 3]


Notes for Editors:

1. A Royal Visit is the title of a proposed commemorative album intended for publication in March 2012 by The Manuscript Publisher. ISBN 978-0-9571157-0-5. The project has been unable to go ahead due to copyright issues.
2. Sophia of Hanover: from Winter Princess to Heiress of Great Britain, 1630-1714 by J.N. Duggan is published by Peter Owen, London 2010. The author’s official website is at
3. This press statement is issued by The Manuscript Publisher, provider of publishing solutions for the digital age. Contact details available from the publisher's website -
Contact for Interviews, etc:
Oscar Duggan (The Manuscript Publisher) - 01 8569566 or 087 7604547

News Release: Kindle edition of John Toland Now Available

posted 4 Feb 2012, 05:07 by J.N. Duggan   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 09:18 ]

J.N. Duggan's biography of John Toland (1670-1722)
- now available in Kindle edition -

posted 4 Feb 2012, 13:07
From the website of The Manuscript Publisher:

John Toland was an Irish born philosopher of the early Enlightenment period. An original thinker in the truest sense of the word, he was actually the first person to be ‘labelled’ a freethinker - by his fellow Irishman Bishop Berkeley.
John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic by J.N. Duggan. Published by The Manuscript Publisher.

A prolific writer of books and pamphlets on all manner of contemporary politics, philosophy and religious concerns, historians of the period consider Toland to be among the leading intellectuals who laid the groundwork for the Age of Enlightenment; which had clearly emerged by the end of the 18th century. His contributions to public discourse were not always welcome however. His first book, Christianity Not Mysterious (1696) was denounced in the English and Irish parliaments and publicly burned in Dublin.

Toland was not an inventor in the practical sense. He was an intellectual, a man of letters devoted to literary and scholarly pursuits, like many others before and since. Yet the flowering of ideas that ensued from this period has so many practical expressions, right up to the present day. In the age of global communications we take the free flow of information and ideas for granted. But it owes everything to innate human curiosity, together with the courage of people like Toland, who challenged the conventional wisdom of their day. They created a framework within which human understanding could advance to the next stage, together with all the comforts and benefits, not forgetting the challenges that this brings in its wake.

It is fitting that the life and work, the thoughts and ideas of people like Toland can be freshly appraised through the medium of modern publishing technology. J.N. Duggan’s book John Toland: Ireland’s Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar … and Heretic is now available in Kindle e-book format and can be bought from Amazon. Copies of the printed edition are also available to buy online, price €5.99 plus P&P [visit our online bookshop for more info - ed].

This e-book edition is published by The Manuscript Publisher, an Irish-based venture dedicated to helping authors and writers to pursue their publishing ambitions. Because knowledge has not stopped advancing since Toland's day. The free exchange of opinions and ideas has many more discoveries yet to unearth. New ideas give rise to further technological advances which in turn enhance our understanding.

E-publishing, along with other forms of digital publishing represent the latest wave of technological advance. The repercussions are far-reaching. For, authors, writers, independent publishers the opportunities are potentially limitless. The technology for the most part is freely available too, meaning that the risks can be spread.

For more information about getting your book published via the printed and non-printed route, talk to us today. You can even get a quote online. Why not let our experience be your guide?


John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic by J.N. Duggan
Kindle edition available to buy from Amazon. Printed edition available to buy from our Online Bookshop.

Press Release: The Heretic and the Heiress - two new books by J.N. Duggan

posted 6 Sept 2011, 05:59 by Oscar Duggan   [ updated 14 Oct 2019, 08:44 by J.N. Duggan ]

Press Release: The Heretic and the Heiress:
the Electress Sophia of Hanover and Irish Philosopher, John Toland

11 November, 2010
For immediate publication

What is the connection between a European Princess, a descendant of the Wittelsbach and Stuart dynasties, who would go on to become Heiress Presumptive to the throne of Great Britain by the Act of Settlement of 1701 [see Note 1] and, a Donegal heretic, widely denounced by political and ecclesiastical authorities of the day? Two new books by Irish author, J.N. Duggan [see Note 2] furnish an answer.

Sophia, Electress of Hanover (1630-1714) was daughter of Frederick and Elisabeth of the Palatinate, known as the Winter King and Queen of Bohemia. Irish readers may be interested to know that she was a 20x great grand-daughter of Brian Boru and counted Strongbow and Aoife among her ancestors.

She is best remembered, in the English-speaking world, as the connection between the Houses of Stuart and Hanover but, in the opinion of her biographer, she deserves to be remembered in her own right, as a gifted writer and chronicler of her times (1630-1714).

"She has left us an enormous legacy of writings in the form of her Memoirs, (which she wrote at the age of 50), and the many letters which she wrote to her family and friends over the course of her long and eventful life. Her writings are remarkable both for the light that they throw on the politics and personalities of the 17 Century - she was related by blood or marriage to all the great families of Europe - but also for the insiders view that she gives us of life in the Princely Courts of Europe."

Because of her privileged position and ringside seat at the cockpit of European politics, she was able to report to Leibniz on 4 November 1688:
The Prince of Orange left last Saturday with 50 vessels. He had no manifesto except a memoir that the English Protestants sent him listing all their grievances against their King and the reasons that made them doubt that the Prince of Wales is the Queen’s child. However, the King of England [James II] has done me the honour of writing to me in his own hand on this subject, where he says that he would have to be the wickedest man on earth to do such a thing, but it seems that those who believe in such an imposture judge him by their own standards. H.M. writes to me also that he had not been able to believe for a long time that his son-in-law and nephew would be willing to invade his country and that was why he had delayed so long in making preparations, but that if the wind remained contrary for another few days he would be in a state to receive him. Therefore we are all impatient to learn how matters went in England. On all the Prince of Orange’s banners there is “For Religion and Liberty”.

J.N. Duggan is the author of Sophia of Hanover: from Winter Princess to Heiress of Great Britain, 1630-1714, recently published by Peter Owen Publishers of London. The circumstances in which her book on Sophia of Hanover was completed, led directly to her second book, John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic, which is published by TAF Publishing. The author explains that she had never heard of John Toland (1670-1722) until coming across his name while researching for her biography of Sophia:
"Searching through other people’s bibliographies, I realised that he was the recognised source of information on the Courts of Hanover and Berlin in the first decade of the Eighteenth Century, and Chambers Biographical Dictionary informed me that he was an Irishman."

In fact, John Toland was born and raised on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal, in 1670. He was a prolific writer on important political and religious issues of the day. He was the first person to be called a freethinker (by Bishop Berkeley); a radical republican who challenged the divine right of kings; the first to advocate full citizenship and equal rights for Jewish people in Great Britain and Ireland, among other notable achievements.

Toland left Ireland soon after his first book Christianity Not Mysterious was publicly burned in Dublin, having been denounced in both the Irish and English parliaments. He moved to London, where he resided till his death in 1722 but, was also a frequent visitor to the Continent. At the behest of some leading Whig lords, he wrote a book (Anglia Libera) in support of Sophia of Hanover's claim to the throne. He was able to present her with a copy in person when he travelled with Lord Macclesfield's delegation [see Note 3] that delivered the Act of Settlement to her.

That Toland and Sophia would take an instant liking to each other is not surprising, according to the author of these two volumes. It was noted that, during daily walks, Sophia and the Irishman would distance themselves from the attendant courtiers so that they could talk in private.
"They were both very forward-looking but also very practical people. He loved an audience and she loved to be entertained. Throughout her life, Sophia kept in touch with the thinking of the foremost philosophers of her day. Gottfried von Leibniz was not only librarian to the court of Hanover but, he was Sophia’s best friend and confidante. The two of them, together with the Catholic bishop of Neustadt, Christof Rojas de Spinola, attempted to reunite the Catholic and Protestant churches."

The attempt ended in failure and acrimony but, in any case, Sophia's enthusiasm for ecumenism was waning as prospects of a Protestant crown loomed on the horizon.

Toland, for his part, was in turn a member of each of the major religious sects - Catholic, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian - but, he abandoned them all and was denounced by each as a dangerous heretic. Outside of academic circles, he is barely known in his native Ireland however, where he is known, he is celebrated for the important part he played in laying the groundwork for the 18th Century Enlightenment.

Both of these books are on sale in all good bookshops and retailers including Online


Notes for Editors:

1. The Act of Settlement of 1701 was an act of the Parliament aimed at ensuring Protestant succession to the English throne. It was later extended to Scotland with the Acts of Union (1707). The Act named the Electress Sophia of Hanover - a granddaughter of James I - and her Protestant heirs to the throne, should Queen Anne die childless. This is precisely what happened. For the last 13 years of her life, Sophia looked forward to mounting her grandfather’s throne, even though she was 35 years older "but in far better health" than Queen Anne, her first-cousin-once-removed. In fact, she died only six weeks before Anne so, it was her son who inherited the throne that her descendants still occupy.

2. J.N. Duggan was born in Sheffield in 1938 but came to live in Ireland at the age of 12. She returned to Sheffield to train as a nurse and later did her BSc at University College Dublin. She now lives in Galway. She is the author of two books on European history. She is at present at work on a life of Count Hans Axel Fersen, the friend of confidante of Marie Antoinette.

3. Charles Gerard, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield was actually sentenced to death in 1685 for his role in a plot to assassinate King Charles II (the Rye House Plot) but later pardoned. In 1689 he was elected Member of Parliament for Lancashire, which he represented till 1694, when he succeeded to his father's peerage. In 1701 was charged to present a copy of the Act of Settlement to the dowager Electress Sophia. He died on 5 November 1701, leaving no heir. The title, Earl of Macclesfield was re-created in 1721.

Contacts for interviews, review copies etc:

Books by J.N. Duggan (Literary Agent)
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