At a time when Henry Mayhew ventured like an explorer into the ‘darkest’ parts of London to publish London Labour and the London Poor (1851), social investigators such as Jacob A. Riis and Helen Campbell did the same for New York city. And just as French policemen such as Vidocqu published their recollections of their time in the police—a book which inspired the characters of Jean Valjean and Javert in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables—so too did one Scottish-American detective, named George McWatters, publish his memoir of policing.
‘Bred up a butcher’: The meat trade and eighteenth-century criminality
“John Hewlet was born in Warwickshire, the son of Richard Hewlet, a butcher, and though not bred up with his father, he was yet bred to the same employment at Leicester, from which, malicious people said he acquired a bloody and barbarous disposition.”
The Birth of Police Brutality in England, 1831 | Stephen Basdeo
Who reported police brutality in the 1800s? Was there even a concept of police brutality in the early nineteenth century? I will show how the concept of police brutality was born in England in 1831.
O Nascimento da Brutalidade Policial na Inglaterra, 1831 | Stephen Basdeo e Luiz Guerra
Quem denunciava a brutalidade policial nos anos 1800s? Existia mesmo um conceito de brutalidade policial no início do século XIX? Então este artigo é o resultado de minha reflexão e pesquisa sobre essas questões e vou mostrar como o conceito de brutalidade policial nasceu na Inglaterra em 1831.
A Brief History of Crime Literature | Stephen Basdeo
“when our happy credulity in all things is woefully abated, and our faith in the supernatural fled, we still retain our taste for the adventurous deeds and wild lives of brigands.”
Luke Hutton’s “Black Dogge of Newgate” (1596) | Stephen Basdeo
During the sixteenth century a new genre of popular literature arrived in England. Adapted from literature that was flourishing in Spain, a stream of printed books and pamphlets shined a light on the seedy underworld in England’s capital city. The genre — Rogue Literature.
Humours of May Fair (1760): or, Scenes of 18th-Century Life | Anonymous
With hideous face, and tuneless note, A ballad-singer strains his throat; Roars out the life of Betty Saunders, With Turpin Dick, and Molly Flanders; Tells many woeful tragic stories, Recorded of our British worthies.
A Canadian Tale of Horror | Anonymous
I rose cautiously from the bed…One look, and the blood chilled in my veins, and I could feel the hair rising upon my head!
Organized Crime | Stephen Basdeo
Organized crime groups have been a menace to society for hundreds of years. Everything from a simple group of Robin Hood-style highwaymen in seventeenth-century England, to the infamous Sicilian Mafia can be considered as organized crime groups. The first recorded incident of Sicilian-influenced organized crime in the United States occurred in October of 1890 when a New Orleans Police Superintendent was executed by a group of Sicilian immigrants. But how does organise crime emerge and flourish in some parts of the world and not others? And how can we even define the term? After all, many crimes, in fact, almost all of them, require a degree of method for their execution, but not all criminals are members of organised crime gangs.
How the Albanian Mafia Infiltrated the Government | Logan Lafferty
“It is painfully obvious that the modus vivendi that has been reached between state and political institutions and organized crime is causing a permanent deformation of the democratic system.”
The Urban Mysteries: Organised Crime in Victorian Popular Literature | Stephen Basdeo
Stephen Basdeo The Following was a lecture delivered by Stephen Basdeo at Richmond: The American International University on Wednesday 18 November 2020 to students in GEP4180: Organised Crime in Popular Culture. Although […]
Hanging the Slave Traders | Anonymous
“A few remarks on that abominable traffic, the SLAVE TRADE, which, to the disgrace of Europe, has not yet ceased to exist, although the efforts of England have been so long directed to its abolition.”
A Murder-Suicide in Stephen Basdeo’s Victorian Ancestors: The Case of George Leedham (1871)
The Basdeo family has a sordid murder-suicide among its Victorian ancestors. Even worse, insanity was thought “to run in the blood”….
The Fine Art of Murder | Stephen Basdeo
“Something more goes to the composition of a fine murder than two blockheads to kill and be killed—a knife—a purse—and a dark lane. Design, gentlemen, grouping, light and shade, poetry and sentiment, are now deemed indispensable to attempts of this nature.”
Lines Written by a New York Homeless Woman
A thin shawl was drawn over her shoulders; her dress was ragged and worn, her face deathly pale…In her pocket was found the remnant of the crust, and a copy of verses printed on red paper.
Gamaliel Ratsey (d.1605): The Man whose Life Kick-started the “True Crime” Genre
Ratsey was a hardened offender who disdained honest work and turned to crime to live extravagantly. Little did he know that the account his life, a pamphlet titled “The Life of Gamaliel Ratsey” (1605) kick-started the “true” crime genre of popular literature.
Claude Du Vall: The Ladies’ Highwayman
As Du Vall approached the carriage he and looked into the window flashing his huge pistol, he exclaimed: “Those eyes of yours, madam, have undone me. I am captivated with that pretty good-natured smile.”
Red Katy and her Customers
The room contains an assortment of devices for inflicting pain. All the time, the client is pleading with Katy for her forgiveness, promising “he will be good,” while she lays into him with the whiplash of her tongue, and afterwards with her collection of implements.
Opium; or, How it Became a “Dirty Drug”
We live in an era in which, increasingly, governments in many western countries are realising that they are losing the so-called “War on Drugs”. Some countries have completely decriminalised certain substances, while in some states in the USA, you can buy marijuana over the counter for both medicinal and recreational use. Our attitude to illicit substances is increasingly looking not too dissimilar from that held by many people in the early nineteenth century.
The Female Vagrant
“…the most selfish hearts should be humanized, and a feeling of love kept alive, reciprocating and reciprocated, between the rich and the poor, the politically great and the socially defenceless, for ever.”
Review: “The 19th-Century Underworld: Crime, Controversy & Corruption” by Stephen Carver
In The 19th-Century Underworld: Crime, Controversy & Corruption, historian and novelist Stephen Carver, drawing upon a wide range of archival and literary sources, takes us on a journey through the seedy courts and sinister alleyways of the criminal underworld which existed during the nineteenth century.
Thomas Cooper’s “Prison Rhyme” (1845)
I recently came into possession of a book written by Thomas Cooper (1805-92), a famous Chartist activist, which he gave to his friend, the newspaper proprietor and fellow Chartist, John Cleave (1790-1847).
Crime in a Communist Utopia
“Up at the League, says a friend, there had been one night a brisk conversational discussion, as to what would happen on the Morrow of the Revolution, finally shading off into a vigorous statement by various friends of their views on the future of the fully-developed new society … [William Guest] found himself musing on the subject-matter of discussion, but still discontentedly and unhappily. “If I could but see it!” … “If I could but see it! If I could but see it!”
Bandits and Robbers of India
“I will warn him that he will not find my robbers such romantic, generous characters as those who occasionally figure in the fields of fiction. He will meet with men strangers to that virtue of robbing the rich to give to the poor. They give to the poor indeed, but it is as spies and instruments of their own crimes, or at least in order to avoid detection.” –Charles Macfarlane, 1833.