When Pugg, dog to eighteenth-century printmaker William Hogarth, finds a leather portmanteau abandoned beneath his master’s deathbed, the bereaved canine embarks on an inquiry to make sense of the disordered contents. Notes from a criminal investigation, letters between sisters, a pair of novels, and the personal reflection of one Sarah Scott lead Pugg on a journey through London’s streets, high and low. In fashionable bookstores and printmakers workshops he uncovers an inky world ruled by paper and on the way he meets a cast of printer’s devils, pirates, hacks, bluestockings, and intrepid laundresses.
Re-telling tales pulled from Hogarth’s own prints, Pugg’s Portmanteau ransacks eighteenth-century literary culture for its rumbustious pleasures, baroque complications, gothic horrors, and even the odd quiet contentment. Inspired by Defoe, Haywood, Richardson, Sterne, and Scott-authors who pioneered the English novel-the book explores the relationship between genre and gender, asking what the Enlightenment might have looked like if it had been just a little more enlightened.