Pierce Egan’s “Robin Hood” was an early Victorian bestseller. In the first edition, Egan also appended a collection of Robin Hood ballads alongside his novel, for which he provided the illustrations.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A Tale of Vagrancy and Imprisonment, by Robert Southey (1774-1843)
The original Goldilocks was a haggard old woman and a criminal vagrant who gets sent to prison for being up to no good.
Criminality and Animal Cruelty in 18th-Century England
In 1824, the lawyer, Andrew Kapp, asked, “Do not these creatures, when they are bruised and wounded, shew an equal sense of pain with ourselves? Are not their shrieks and mournful cries, as so many, calls upon their tormentors for pity? And do not their dying pangs, and the painful convulsions of their tortured bodies, cause uneasiness in every human spectator?”
Passo di Lupo: An Italian Bandit
Contrary to stories of Robin Hood, an outlaw’s life was not a merry one: in the 1820s, banditry in Italy was rife; at this time, a young travel writer named Charles Macfarlane was touring the country and managed to obtain a rare interview with one of these brigands.
Mack the Knife: The “True” Story Behind the Song | Stephen Basdeo
By Stephen Basdeo. The popular song “Mack the Knife” was based upon the story of an eighteenth-century highwayman named Captain Macheath. This post traces the literary life of this fictional character.
The Last Dying Speech and Confession of Jack Straw
“We would have killed the king and driven out of the land all possessioners, bishops, monks, canons, and rectors of churches. We would have created kings, Walter Tyler in Kent and one each in other counties, and appointed them and we would have set fire to four parts of the city and burnt it down and divided all the precious goods found there amongst ourselves.”
Post-Apocalyptic Bandits: Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man” (1826)
The year is 2073, England is a republic, but an incurable disease is sweeping the earth, decimating its population.
An Early Socialist History of the Peasants’ Revolt: Charles Edmund Maurice’s “Lives of English Popular Leaders of the Middle Ages” (1875)
Charles Edmund Maurice was a Barrister, History Lecturer, and committed Christian Socialist. In 1875, he authored one of the first socialist histories of the rebellion of 1381.
Available for preorder: “The Life and Legend of a Rebel Leader: Wat Tyler” (2018)
My book on Wat Tyler in medieval and post-medieval literature is now available for preorder on Amazon!
Victor Hugo’s “The Last Day of a Condemned Man” (1829)
Last week Google celebrated the life of Victor Hugo (1802-85) with some quirky illustrations on its masthead, so I thought I would do the same by writing a post on an early novel by Hugo entitled “The Last Day of a Condemned Man” (1829), which explores the mindset of a man who is about to be hanged.
‘The Prince of Pick-Pockets’: George Barrington (1755-1804)
Expelled from school after stabbing his classmate, G. Barrington became an actor, then a pickpocket, until he was transported to Botany Bay and died of insanity.
John Terry (d.1803): A Yorkshire Murderer
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, 1803, a 67 year old woman is murdered in her bed by John Terry, apprentice.
“The Bondman” (1833): Wat Tyler, Medievalism, and the Great Reform Act of 1832
Mrs. O’Neill’s story of the Peasants’ Revolt, all-but-forgotten now, reflects the political agitation leading up ot the passage of the Great Reform Act (1832)
In the 18th century, people asssumed that if you shunned work and acted like an idle apprentice, you would become a criminal.
When “Upperworld” and “Underworld” Meet: Social Class and Crime in “The Mysteries of London (1844-46)
Rich people commit greater crimes than their poorer counterparts, but they are at their most dangerous when members of the “upperworld” and “underworld” work together.
Martina Chapanay (1800-1887): An Argentinian Female Robin Hood
Martina Chapanay, a woman who led a gang of bandits in Argentina for upwards of 20 years.
Charles Kinnaister: Executed for the Murder of Australian Aborigines (1838)
Broadly speaking, criminals fall into three types: heroes, buffoons, and brutes.[i] The categories are just as applicable to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as they are today – ‘heroes’ would be men […]
Rob Roy (1671-1734)
A FAMOUS man is Robin Hood / The English ballad-singer’s joy! / And Scotland has a thief as good, / An outlaw of as daring mood; / She has her brave ROB ROY!
E. L. Blanchard’s “The Mysteries of London” (1849-50)
After G W M Reynolds and Thomas Miller decided to stop writing Victorian crime novel “The Mysteries of London”, E. L. Blanchard took up the narrative with a brand new story with original characters.
Thomas Miller’s “The Mysteries of London; or, Lights and Shadows of London Life” (1849)
The Robin Hood novelist Thomas Miller was chosen by George Vickers to continue writing “The Mysteries of London” in 1849.
‘Robin Hood Should Bring Us John Ball’: The Outlaw in William Morris’ “A Dream of John Ball” (1886)
Robin Hood has always been an awkward socialist figure, but according to William Morris (1834-1896), he prepared the way for the radical preacher, John Ball (d.1381).
Society Gets the Criminals it Deserves: The Resurrection Man from G. W. M. Reynolds’ “The Mysteries of London” (1844-45)
What makes a person commit crime? How does a person become a hardened criminal? These are questions which we ask today and which the Victorians also asked of their society? This post examines G W M Reynolds’ answer to these questions.
The First Robin Hood Novel: Robert Southey’s “Harold, or the Castle of Morford” (1791)
Contrary to scholarly opinion, the first Robin Hood novel was not written in 1819 but in 1791.
The Peterloo Massacre & Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” (1819)
Did the events of 16 August 1819 influence Walter Scott’s portrayal of Robin Hood?