West Indies to which Macheath has been transported, had nothing in it to offend the court or the Whigs. Not surprisingly, however, other authors were quick to follow up on the enormous success of The Beggar's Opera, and over fifty examples appeared on London stages, none of them seriously rivalling the popularity of Gay's initiating work.
Voltaire also enjoyed his major literary success in England this spring, his long-promised Henriade appearing in March and dedicated to Queen Caroline. The sales were excellent and Voltaire was again welcomed at court, even to intimate supper parties there. Voltaire did not again plunge into the social world, however. With his major English publishing project finished, he began to consider a return to France, where he was now arranging for the publication of the Henriade and other works. He again retired to Wandsworth where he spent the summer in literary projects, among which the theatre took a central position it had not held since his arrival in England, and the English influence on such activity was clear. Haunted by his exposure to the English stage in general and Shakespeare in particular, he sketched out the first act of a tragedy, Brutus, in English prose, and began work on La Mort de César, both of which he would complete soon after his return to France.
Voltaire's last letter from London is dated August 1728. In the next, February 1729, he is in Paris after an incognito stay of some time at Dieppe, gaining assurances that he would be welcome back in the capital. Voltaire had been in England for approximately two years and three months, but during this rather brief period he had become acquainted with most of the leading political and cultural figures of that country. More importantly, he gained a love and knowledge of an alternative social and literary world that would provide him with an invaluable perspective from which to view and critique his own culture and tradition in the many years to come.