In the midst of the Seven Year’s War (1754-1763), 1759 was named an ‘annus mirabilis’, or ‘year of wonders’, following a series of decisive British victories against the French. The Battle of Minden on 1 August 1759 in particular represents the courage of the British Army. Since then, Britain’s victory at Minden has been commemorated on 1 August each year by the Yorkshire Day celebrations, in recognition of the bravery of the Yorkshire Light Infantry.

1759 was also an auspicious year for literature. It saw the publication of some of Samuel Johnson’s finest writing in his periodical the Idler, and marked the advent of an influential work in the history of copyright, Edward Young’s ‘Conjectures on Original Composition’. This year also saw the publication of several major works of fiction, including Johnson’s Rasselas, Voltaire’s Candide, and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy.

One of our researchers, Danielle McDonnell, from Northumbria University, has spent some time exploring this miraculous year and has selected some of its most momentous occasions, such as the opening of the British Museum and the sensational trial of the notorious murderer Eugene Aram.

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