The Miseries of Human Life

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First edition title page

The Miseries of Human Life was written by James Beresford (1764–1840) and published in 1806, first as a single volume and then as an expanded two-volume edition later that year. Illustrated by George Cruikshank, it catalogued "in excruciating detail" the "petty outrages, minor humiliations, and tiny discomforts that make up everyday human existence". The Miseries were written as a series of discussions between Mr Samuel Sensitive and Mr Timothy Testy, in which they catalogue the daily "injuries, insults, disappointments and treacheries" of everyday life. Mrs Testy makes occasional appearances to offer "Supplementary Sighs" from a feminine perspective.[1]

The Gentleman's Magazine of May 1841 described The Miseries as "an extraordinary success".[2] English poet Richard Henry Horne noted that the book sold "like wildfire".[3] Profits for the book exceeded £5000 (equivalent to £447,000 in 2018[a]).[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)", MeasuringWorth, retrieved January 27, 2019


  1. ^ Beresford (1995), p. 6
  2. ^ "Obituary: Rev. James Beresford, M.A.", The Gentleman's Magazine,, p. 574, May 1841, retrieved 4 May 2010
  3. ^ Horne, William Henry (1833), Exposition of the false medium and barriers excluding men of genius from the public, Effingham Wilson, p. 28
  4. ^ Didier, Eugene Lemoine (1879), American publishers and English authors, E.L. Didier, p. 15


  • Beresford, James (1995) [1806], The Miseries of Human Life, Abridged version by Michelle Lovric, Past Times, ISBN 978-0-312-15425-7