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.
“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.”
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.
What would a Chartist republic look like in practice? Very few Chartist novelists discussed this question in depth, as most of them merely shined a light on social issues of the day. G W M Reynolds, however, used the fictional Italian state of Castelcicala in The Mysteries of London as a ‘laboratory’ in which his progressive theories of government might be tested.
‘“The Christmas season, which to others is a blessing, shall become to thee a curse: for thou hast forfeited all claim to that salvation and that mercy which He … ensure[d] on behalf of his elect!”’
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 […]
“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.”
The Basdeo family has a sordid murder-suicide among its Victorian ancestors. Even worse, insanity was thought “to run in the blood”….
“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.”
This book, highly recommended, is an excellent buy for any general reader who wishes to find out about the life of a famous forgotten Victorian crime novelist.
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.
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.
If you were a criminal, what would you choose – a life sentence in prison, the death sentence, or to be surgically blinded?
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.
In the Victorian era, New York was a large industrial city with ‘dark Satanic mills’ in which the poor and the rich lived “cheek by jowl”; paupers lived a hand-to-mouth existence and for many, a life of crime as part of an organised criminal gang.
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.
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.
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, 1803, a 67 year old woman is murdered in her bed by John Terry, apprentice.
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.
Given that the term “fake news” has recently been bandied around by some very prominent public figures on social media (hurled as a term of abuse at various media outlets, and usually in capital letters), I thought I might bring to people’s attention an interesting little court case from June 1778.
Robin Hood was not the only famous law breaker in medieval times. Alongside Robin Hood were figures such as Adam Bell and the subject of this blog post, the medieval pirate Thomas Dun.
When William Hawke moved to London in the 18th century, little did he know that he would fall in with the criminal world, be transported to America, return to London and be hanged.
He stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and commanded an army of over 600 men.