A new visual biography celebrating the life and works of radical 18th Century thinker Thomas Paine has been launched at the Head Office of The Sussex Archaeological Society.

Created by visual artist Polyp (Paul Fitzgerald), the graphic novel uses authentic verbatim voices of the time to look at the contribution made by the author of Common Sense, Rights of Man and the Age of Reason.

Born to a working family in England in the 1730s, Thomas Paine developed his political thinking while living in Bull House in Lewes – which is now the headquarters of the Society.

He exploded onto the political landscape when he emigrated to America. His writings sparked the War of Independence, transforming him into an international best-selling hero of democracy, and a figure of hate for the Royalist establishment.

Although his words also helped inspire the French Revolution, he only narrowly escaped the guillotine under Robespierre’s tyrannical regime. He became a vilified outcast when he dared to challenge the power of religious fundamentalism.

Among those to attend the launch were individuals and groups who work to keep the legacy of Paine alive, along with the Mayor of Lewes, councillors, authors, academics and members of the Society. Supporters of the author, who helped fund its creation during COVID lockdown via a Kickstart campaign, also attended.

Harvey’s brewery, which is based in Lewes, also provided Tom Paine Ale for the evening event.

The new visual biography is now available to buy on The Society’s online shop, along with a range other products relating to Thomas Paine. Visit our shop.