Gibbon was unabashed in acknowledging that his career as an historian was fuelled by a desire for fame, and the success of The Decline and Fall indeed furnished him with 'a name, a rank, a character, in the World' to which he would not otherwise have been entitled. Eventually this publicreputation was pleasing to him, and nourished his innocent vanity. Initially, however, it was a reputation he resented, and was determined to resist. In particular, the denunciation by the spokesmen for religious orthodoxy of Gibbon's treatment of Christianity was (so Gibbon contended) a viciousmisrepresentation.The subject of this book is the story of the conflict between Gibbon and those he mockingly dubbed the 'Watchmen of the Holy City', and it explores the ramifications of an elusive aspect of authorship. By considering the sequence of interactions between the historian and his readership, Womersleymakes possible a more intimate understanding of what might be called Gibbon's experience of himself. At the same time he deepens our knowledge of the conditions of English authorship during the later decades of the eighteenth and the early decades of the nineteenth centuries, from the opening of thewar with the American colonies, down to the successful conclusion of the wars with revolutionary and Napoleonic France.