“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.”
John Beaumont’s Boudicca (1647) | Stephen Basdeo
The Ancient Britons’ rebellion was depicted as their last gasp in the fight for independence against the domination of the Roman Empire.
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.”
Robin Hood and his Crew of Soldiers (1660)
1660: England’s great republican leader, Oliver Cromwell, had died. A new king ascends the throne. Theatres had reopened. What better way to enjoyn yourself than watching the latest Robin Hood play?
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.”
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?”
Capt. Alexander Smith’s “A History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads, Shoplifts, and Cheats” (1714) | Stephen Basdeo
Alexander Smith’s A History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads, Shoplifts, and Cheats (1714), with its combination of excessive moralism and sensational reporting, set the tone for all successive ‘true’ crime writing.
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.
Curteous Outlaws and Elizabethan Rogues: The 16th-Century Context of “A Gest of Robyn Hode”
Crime historians often pay little regard to medieval outlaw literature, but my paper aims to use the history of crime in the early modern period to add a new context to their study. The ballad A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode was first printed in the early sixteenth century. Around the same time also we see other outlaw ballads printed such as Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly (c.1530). My paper explores one reason why the figure of the outlaw hero became popular in print during the sixteenth century. Could it be that the idealisation of the outlaw occurred during the sixteenth century because another, more sinister criminal figure was also emerging in print: the ‘rogue’? Whilst outlaws such as Robin Hood were ‘curteyse’ and ‘dyde pore men moch god’, the figure of the rogue was more menacing. The word ‘rogue’ was first coined in 1561. Unlike the relatively good greenwood outlaw who lived apart from mainstream society, however, rogues were part of it, describing somebody who would rob, cheat, and swindle people indiscriminately, all the while effecting the disguise of a law-abiding citizen. Thus there was a need for people to believe in a good outlaw, because real-life offenders were ultimately more menacing. Hence the proposed paper explores the dichotomy between outlaws and rogues in print, in the process highlighting how changes in the nature of crime in the early modern period might have affected medieval outlaw myths.
Maid Marian in Victorian Penny Dreadfuls: A Proto-Feminist?
A paper read at Chethams Library, Manchester – 20 May 2016.
The Legend of Robin Hood
A forthcoming public talk to be delivered at Pontefract Castle on 8 May 2016.
The Newgate Calendar | Stephen Basdeo
The lives of murderers, ravishers, thieves, highwaymen, burglars, forgers, Pirates, and Street Robbers adorned the pages of “The Newgate Calendar”.
Charles Johnson’s ‘Lives of the Highwaymen’ (1734)
Johnson’s Lives of the Highwaymen was part of one of the most popular genres of early eighteenth-century literature: the criminal biography.
Rogues in Early Modern England
The word ‘rogue’ was not invented until the 1560s.
Sir John Falstaff, the Notorious Highwayman
Criminal biographers were so committed to historical accuracy that they gave us The Life of the notorious highwayman, Sir John Falstaff.
“The Noble Birth of Robin Hood” (1662)
“The Noble Birth and Gallant Atchievements of that Remarkable Out-Law Robin Hood. Together with a True Account of the Many Merry and Extravagant Exploits he Play’s in Twelve Several Stories” (1662)
Christmas in Newgate Gaol
In 1863 a reporter decided to experience what it was like to spend Christmas Day amongst the felons in Newgate.
Captain James Hind (1616-1652): The Royalist Highwayman
William Harrison Ainsworth’s novel Rookwood (1834) is the work which, along with Edward Bulwer Lytton’s lesser novel Paul Clifford (1830) imbued eighteenth-century highwaymen to legendary status. Ainsworth wanted to write a novel […]
Did any women ever rob people in the 17th and 18th centuries?
What is a book?
Do we read ‘books,’ or do we read texts? What is a book?
Robin Hood the Brute: The Outlaw in Eighteenth-Century Criminal Biography
This is a copy of the paper that I presented at the International Association for Robin Hood Studies ‘Outlaws in Context’ Conference, 30 June – 1 July 2015.
Ben Jonson’s “The Sad Shepherd; or, a Tale of Robin Hood” (1641)
In 1637 Ben Jonson began work on a Robin Hood play, “The Sad Shepherd; or, a Tale of Robin Hood,” and presented an idealised, pastoral outlaw world.
The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington (1598) & The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntingdon (1601) by Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle.
Robin Hood first became an Earl in the 16th century; two relatively unknown plays had a dramatic effect upon later interpretations of the legend.
The English Rogue (1665)
Exorbitancy and Necessity frequently compelled him to perpetrate Villainy; And no wonder, since he lived in the most infectious Air of the worst of most Licentious Times.