At the period when our tale commences, George Hamel had more than fulfilled the great promises his infantine years seemed to afford of future greatness. His attention had been entirely devoted to the study of medicine; and at the age of five and twenty he was considered to be the most eminent physician in Nuremberg. His cousins were two of the most beautiful creatures that ever illumined this earthly sphere. Angiolina, the elder, was tall and stately—with dark blue eyes, light flaxen hair, and a clear complexion in which the white and red seemed to be struggling to decide which should obtain the conquest. Her bust was large and voluptuous—and her waist so thin, it appeared as if two hands could span it. She was a girl of a quick and fiery disposition, of strong passions, and endowed with even a masculine intellect.
A Victorian “Commonplace Book” | Stephen Basdeo
I recently got hold of a “Commonplace Book” which dates from 1859. Commonplace books have been a feature of home life since at least the 1600s. Most often women—though not exclusively women—would compile various poems, drawings, or copy out “advice columns” from books and newspapers into these books for keeping later on.
Playing Robin Hood in the Victorian Nursery
It would have fallen to the lot of a poorly paid Victorian governess to practice playing Robin Hood with children in the nursery.
“The Vision” by Robin Hood (1841)
Robin Hood is significant, not because of the life of any real person but because he is a symbol. So, appropriations of his name in later centuries are significant because they highlight what the name meant to people like you and I in times past.
The Awakening Conscience
William Holman Hunt’s painting of “The Awakening Conscience” (1853) told an all-too-familiar story: that of the working-class “kept woman” ensnared into a debauched lifestyle by an upper class man.
Robin Hood of the Anti-Corn Law League
Hark ye! My Merry Men all and listen to me!
Of a very bad bishop who was a Tory!
The Politics of Victorian England’s “Vicious Republican”: G. W. M. Reynolds (1814–79)
“I only strive to arouse the grovelling spirit of the industrious millions to a sense of the wrongs under which they labour.”
Life of a Little-Known Chartist
“A plebeian fighting for the poor and rewarded with poverty.”
Yobs from Richmond Arrested for Stealing Football
Young lads have always enjoyed playing football, but sometimes their love for it can land them in trouble with the police. This is as true today as it was in the Victorian era, where in court records we find two residents from Richmond, London, William Ford, aged 19, and Henry Hold, aged 15, arrested for having broken into a shop and stealing a football.
Pierce Egan’s “Robin Hood Ballads” (1840)
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.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Black Arrow” (1888)
“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.”
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.
‘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.
My Forthcoming Book: “The Mob Reformer: The Life and Legend of Wat Tyler” (2018)
I have recently been contracted by a commercial publisher to write a popular history book entitled “The Mob Reformer: The Life and Legend of Wat Tyler” which is due for publication in 2018.
George Emmett’s “Robin Hood and the Archers of Merrie Sherwood” (1868-69)
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.
Pernicious Trash? “The Prince of Archers, or, The Boyhood Days of Robin Hood”(1883)
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’.
Radical Robin Hood: “Little John and Will Scarlet” (1865)
In 1865 the penny dreadul “Little John and Will Scarlet” appeared, full of ideas of democracy and egalitarianism.
Last Dying Speeches, Trials, and Executions: The Changing Format and Function of Crime Broadsides, c.1800 – c.1840
A paper delivered at Pernicious Trash? Victorian Popular Fiction, c.1830-c.1880, Leeds Trinity University 12 September 2016.
The Chartist Robin Hood: Thomas Miller’s “Royston Gower, or, The Days of King John” (1838)
In Thomas Miller’s novel ‘Royston Gower’ (1838), Robin Hood is portrayed as a medieval Chartist activist.
The ‘Public School’ Robin Hood: Imperial Ideology in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Children’s Books
During the late-Victorian and Edwardian period many children’s books telling the story of Robin Hood were published, such as John B. Marsh’s Robin Hood (1865), Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883), Henry Gilbert’s Robin Hood and the Men of the Greenwood (1912), and Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood and his Adventures (1917). Stephanie Barczewski argues that Robin Hood in late Victorian children’s books is an anti-imperialist figure, and she bases this assertion largely upon the fact that Robin Hood children’s books are critical of Richard I’s foreign adventures. Yet the situation was more nuanced than that: many of the late Victorian Robin Hood children’s works that were published in the period projected Robin Hood and his fellow outlaws as men who lived up to the Public School Ethos, cultivating the virtues of athleticism, fair play, chivalry, and devotion to duty. Indeed, Edward Gilliatt’s novel In Lincoln Green (1898) is even set in a very ‘Victorianised’ medieval public school. Thus these works represented the ideal qualities that young men would need if they were to serve the country, and thus, as the proposed paper argues, were subtly imperialist.
Historic Yorkshire Criminals: William Knipe’s “Criminal Chronology” (1867)
In 1867 William Knipe authored “The Criminal Chronology of York Castle” – the most comprehensive survey of crime in Yorkshire from the medieval period to the Victorian era.
Wat Tyler: 18th- & 19th-Century Literary Afterlives
A brief look at Georgian and Victorian representations of Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.
William Jones’ ‘A “Lytell Geste” of Robin Hood’ (1870)
A little-known Robin Hood poem from 1870.