‘Those Gay Days of Wickedness and Wit’

The Restoration Period in Popular Historiographies (18th–21st Centuries)

The popular re-imaginings of past historical periods – in particular of ‘successful’ periods like the Victorian or the Tudor Ages – in modern media are currently a flourishing field of study. By comparison, the Restoration period (1660–1688/9) is under-researched in studies of popular historiography. This era has a dubious reputation characterized by uninhibited libertines, the twin catastrophes fire and plague, and a growing absolutism overcome in the ‘Glorious Revolution’. Yet in the last three centuries, the Restoration period has featured in numerous historical novels, historical romances, in history plays and historical comedies.

The present study examines changing images of this period in popular historiographical genres since the early eighteenth century and analyses them in the context of the political, cultural, and historiographical discourses of their time. Additionally, it traces the historiographical changes in these genres, offering insights into their developments and functions in the field of historiography.