In 1714 George I of Hanover ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom. Many were unhappy with their new German king and the Earl of Mar, in 1715, raised the standard of the royal house of Stuart to win back the throne for the “true” king in exile, the son of James II. A leading journalist decided to mock the rebels.
“There are two kinds of immortality: that which the soul really enjoys
after this life, and that imaginary existence by which men live in
their fame and reputation. The best and greatest actions have proceeded
from the prospect of the one or the other of these; but my design is to
treat only of those who have chiefly proposed to themselves the latter
as the principal reward of their labours.”
Through the centuries, many poets have turned their hand to writing about Robin Hood. In the 1740s, at the height of the neoclassical movement in English culture, John Winstanley reimagined Robin Hood as a classical archer who competed with Apollo.
“…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.”
On the same night that Mary Shelley conceived the idea for Frankenstein, her friend, Dr John Polidori, conjured another frightening creature – the vampire. Yet his malevolent vampire was no match for some Italian bandits, it seems.
G. W. M. Reynolds, the “vicious republican” of the Victorian era, attributed the cause of all crime to the the existence of the royal family and the political establishment.
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.
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?”
Joseph Ritson stated that the poem was “a dull performance and scarcely merits the care of a modern impression.”
The year is 2073, England is a republic, but an incurable disease is sweeping the earth, decimating its population.
My book on Wat Tyler in medieval and post-medieval literature is now available for preorder on Amazon!
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.
In the archvies of the Bodleian Library, Oxford there is a hitherto neglected Robin Hood novel by Robert Southey entitled ‘Harold, or the Castle of Morford’ (1791). This post is a short introduction to this text.
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.
“I had four blak arrows under my belt, Four for the greefs that I have felt, Four for the number of ill menne, That have opressid me now and then.”
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!
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.
The Robin Hood novelist Thomas Miller was chosen by George Vickers to continue writing “The Mysteries of London” in 1849.
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.
Contrary to scholarly opinion, the first Robin Hood novel was not written in 1819 but in 1791.
This post sheds light upon another Robin Hood serial written by George Emmett entitled Robin Hood and the Archers of Merrie Sherwood which was serialised between 1868 and 1869.
In the late-Victorian period The Edinburgh Review wrote that ‘There is now before us such a veritable mountain of pernicious trash, mostly in paper covers, and “Price One Penny”; so-called novelettes, tales, stories of adventure, mystery and crime; pictures of school life hideously unlike reality; exploits of robbers, cut-throats, prostitutes, and rogues, that, but for its actual presence, it would seem incredible’.