All links are to Wikipedia entries.

Government, Politics, and War:

  • February 20: Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II dies and is succeeded by his brother, Leopold II.
  • March 14: William Bligh arrives back in Britain with the first report of the mutiny on the Bounty.
  • April 17: Benjamin Franklin, American scientist and statesman, dies at age 84.
  • July: Louis XVI of France accepts a constitutional monarchy.
  • July 4: Britain allies with the Nizam of Hyderabad against the Mysore.

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

  • William Blake publishes The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
  • Scottish poet Joanna Baillie publishes Fugitive Verses.
  • Mrs. Ann Radcliffe publishes A Sicilian Romance.
  • November: Edmund Burke publishes Reflections on the Revolution of France, which condemns the revolution as the beginning of mob rule.
  • November: Vindication of the Rights of Men, a pamphlet by Mary Wollstonecraft is the first published response to Burke‘s Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Portrait of Elizabeth Farren by Thomas Lawrence, 1790.

Portrait of Elizabeth Farren by Thomas Lawrence, 1790. (Click on image to see a larger version and read to more about it.)

Art, Architecture, and Design:


  • Joseph Haydn completes String Quartets, Op. 64.
  • January 26: Mozart‘s opera “Cosi Fan Tutte” premiers in Vienna.
  • October 9: Mozart’s Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra in D major (Coronation) is performed for the first time at the coronation of Leopold II in Frankfurt-am-Main.

Science and Industry:

  • January 1: The 91-mile Oxford Canal is opened throughout, providing an important link between the River Thames at Oxford and Coventry in the English Midlands.
  • January 30: The first boat specialized as a life-boat, Henry Greathead‘s Original, is tested on the River Tyne.
  • June 28: The Forth and Clyde Canal is opened.