Unseemly Pictures Graphic Satire and Politics in Early Modern England Helen Pierce

Publication date:
22 Jan 2009
Yale University Press
248 pages: 254 x 190mm
100 b-w
Sales territories:


This engaging book is the first full study of the satirical print in seventeenth-century England from the rule of James I to the Regicide. It considers graphic satire both as a particular pictorial category within the wider medium of print and as a vehicle for political agitation, criticism, and debate.


Helen Pierce demonstrates that graphic satire formed an integral part of a wider culture of political propaganda and critique during this period, and she presents many witty and satirical prints in the context of such related media as manuscript verses, ballads, pamphlets, and plays. She also challenges the commonly held notion that a visual iconography of politics and satire in England originated during the 1640s, tracing the roots of this iconography back into native and European graphic cultures and traditions.


Helen Pierce is a postdoctoral research fellow based at the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York.

?Helen Pierce?s splendid new study of graphic satire in England?, not only providing a general history?but also interrogating and deconstructing a series of?influential individual images.  This is a thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated book.? - Mark Stoyle, BBC History Magazine

"Pierce demonstrates the importance of graphic satire within the broader subject of political critique and propaganda. Her careful explication of many satirical prints (all of which are artfully reproduced) reveals their often underappreciated complexity and subtlety."?J. D. Lyons, Choice