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.