“I have power by virtue of chance; I must be employed in doing good. Progress and Liberty!” Such were the words which came of the mouth of the Emperor of Brazil on meeting the 1800s’ most venerable author, Victor Hugo.
‘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.”
Subjects of Two Empires: Brazilians in Victorian Britain | Stephen Basdeo
When the Emperor arrived ‘a number of Brazilian residents in London crowded forward to meet them’. Who were these Brazilians resident in Victorian London? Can we know a little bit more about their histories?
Chartism and Progressive Nationalism: The Spirit of Wat Tyler
1848. The Chartists were down and despondent. Their third petition had been rejected by the government outright. What they needed was a new sense of purpose and, perhaps, a “Tyler” to speak to them.
Álvares de Azevedo’s ‘Shadow of Don Juan’ [Sombra de Don Juan] | Luiz Guerra (Trans.)
Luiz Guerra’s new, and very fine, translation into English of Azevedo’s Shadow of Don Juan [‘Sombra de Don Juan’] is the first English translation of Azevedo’s poem. With great skill, as is usual of Guerra’s translations, he has largely preserved the original rhyme scheme while retaining Azevedo’s meaning.
Soneto: Palidá a Luz [Sonnet: Pale the Light] | Álvarez de Azevedo
Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo (1831–52), referred to usually as Álvares de Azevedo, was Brazil’s most famous Romantic poet. Yet because his works have never been translated into English, Azevedo remains unknown to most British and American scholars.
Robin Hood: The Academic Study of a Legend | Stephen Basdeo
What have historians said about Robin Hood, who he was, and the social and political context in which the early tales emerged?
Louis XVI’s Execution: An Eyewitness Account | Leboucher
After Victor Hugo’s death, and before the publication of his letters (many of which remain unpublished), Paul Maurice published Memoirs of Victor Hugo. This was not chronological autobiography but was, as Maurice […]
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.”
Keeping Law and Order in the Liberty of the Savoy according to Joseph Ritson | Stephen Basdeo
When Ritson first started his job as High Bailiff of the Liberty of the Savoy, no one really knew what the job entailed. So Ritson decided to research the subject.
Man of Titles Won with Blood: A Poem on the Duke of Wellington (1835) | Charles Cole
Man of Titles Won with Blood was how the radical poet Charles Cole described the Duke of Wellington in 1835. In his eyes, he was clearly not the national hero that everyone thought…
A Chartist History of England (1849-50): William Rufus | Edwin Roberts
His memory, unrelieved by one noble trait, one magnanimous action, or one pure sentiment, comes down to us in chronicles, lay and secular, as one violent and tyrannical. A perfidious friend, an encroaching neighbour, a heartless and ungenerous relation.
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.
Robin Hood, a Foundling
The name of Robin Hood appears in the most unlikely of places. Here we meet an orphan boy from the eighteenth century who was given the hero’s name.
Passo di Lupo: An Italian Bandit
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.
Hang’d, Drawn, and Quartered! “Spectacular Justice” during the Medieval and Early Modern Period
Katherine Royer’s new book, “The English Execution Narrative, 1200-1700” (2015) analyses the meanings behind the often gruesome executions carried out in the medieval and early modern period.
Available for preorder: “The Life and Legend of a Rebel Leader: Wat Tyler” (2018)
My book on Wat Tyler in medieval and post-medieval literature is now available for preorder on Amazon!
The First Robin Hood Novel: Robert Southey’s “Harold, or, The Castle of Morford” (1791)
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.
In the 18th century, people asssumed that if you shunned work and acted like an idle apprentice, you would become a criminal.
Book Review: “The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted” (2017)
Throughout history, art depicting the law and justice helped to legitimise the power of the courts
Rob Roy (1671-1734)
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!
Thomas Miller’s “The Mysteries of London; or, Lights and Shadows of London Life” (1849)
The Robin Hood novelist Thomas Miller was chosen by George Vickers to continue writing “The Mysteries of London” in 1849.
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.