Author Archives

Stephen Basdeo

Stephen Basdeo is a historian and writer based in Leeds, UK.

The Novel and 18th-Century Criminal Biography

The novel emerged as the dominant literary form in the 1700s, but one of its influences was the contemporary genre of criminal biography.

Robin Hood Staffordshire Figurine

During the nineteenth century, various authors such as John Keats, Sir Walter Scott, and Thomas Love Peacock transformed Robin Hood into a morally safe figure; a respectable outlaw hero with whom the Victorian middle classes could identify. It was not purely in literary texts that Robin Hood’s respectable status was exhibited, however, but also in material culture.

Kew Gardens’ Imperial Connections

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew were founded by Princess Augusta (1713-1772) in the 1760s. In 1838 a Royal Commission was set up to inquire into the future of the gardens. The Commission concluded that, after years of official neglect, ‘the gardens should either be put on a professional footing or be closed’.

Moral Panic and William Harrison Ainsworth’s “Jack Sheppard” (1839)

Many people will remember the furor over so-called “video nasties” in the early 1990s, when certain horror movies had been blamed for some particularly heinous juvenile crimes. Newspapers such as the The Sun carried headlines such as “burn your video nasties.” This was a knee-jerk reaction that is known as a “moral panic.” However, it was not the first time that the newspapers had blamed a form of entertainment for particularly heinous crimes.

The New Newgate Calendar

In the penny dreadful version of The New Newgate Calendar, scenes of the most sensational and sexual type were included for publication – torture scenes, nudity, and flagellation – and sparked a moral panic amongst middle-class press commentators.

A Real Robin Hood?

Who is the most likely candidate for being the original Robin Hood?
The last historian to address this was James Clarke Holt, and the evidence for the most likely candidate which he identified is laid down here.