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Search tags: the-thieves-opera
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text 2015-01-19 01:53
Reading List: Because I'm Now Bursting With Crime and the 1700s, I Make a List...

Finished off Lucy Moore's Thieves' Opera and am I writing the review about the criminals of the 1700s? No, instead I immediately made up a reading list for books from the 1800s. (eyeroll at self here) Moore chats a lot about later fiction - which reminded me that I once had a theoretical list of them, for one of those self challenges. I was going tor read all of the Newgate Novels.

 

And thank you wikipeida:

"The Newgate novels (or Old Bailey novels) were novels published in England from the late 1820s until the 1840s that were thought to glamorise the lives of the criminals they portrayed. Most drew their inspiration from the Newgate Calendar, a biography of famous criminals published at various times during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but usually rearranged or embellished the original tale for melodramatic effect. The novels caused great controversy and notably drew criticism from William Makepeace Thackeray, who satirised them in several of his novels and attacked the authors openly."

There's not a huge amount of Newgates (I should add here, that are readily available), but some of them are really, really long. (I'm looking at you, Ainsworth.) So that's not an entirely realistic goal for me (I have yet to finish an entire Ainsworth novel). I do want to remember them, so I figured a list might help.

 

I also added the Sensation Novels, since I've already read some of those and can console myself with that.

 

Again, wikipedia:

"The sensation novel was a literary genre of fiction popular in Great Britain in the 1860s and 1870s, following on from earlier melodramatic novels and the Newgate novels, which focused on tales woven around criminal biographies. It also drew on the gothic and romantic genres of fiction. ...Sensation novels used both modes of romance and realism to the extreme where in the past they had traditionally been contradictory modes of literature."

 

Reading list: Newgate Novels and Sensation Novels

 

And now, because it has a chapter on the Newgate novels, I really want to read

 

The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction (Cambridge Companions to Literature)

by Martin Priestman

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text 2015-01-18 18:18
Reading in Progress: The Thieves' Opera by Lucy Moore
The Thieves' Opera - Lucy Moore

Here's a sentence that I can't help but think has a lot of (undocumented) stories behind it.

 

p 187 (Kindle Locations 2948-2951):

"A great deal of evidence was required to convict someone of murder; infanticide, a common crime among poor young women, could be disproved by the defendant producing in court a little shirt she had sewn, which would show that she had been preparing for the birth of her baby - even if, unbeknownst to the jurors, she had made it the day before she appeared in court."

Of course it was also extremely easy to be convicted of many other crimes, all of which led to a death sentence or transportation (to America or Australia usually).

 

And because it's somewhat sad to post just that bit, how bout...

 

p. 132-133 (Kindle Locations 2059-2066, 2069-2076):

Such stories lent highwaymen an allure that captivated the reading public - particularly the female side. Claude Duvall was one of the best-known highwaymen of the late seventeenth century - a heart-throb, as famous for his lovemaking (he was French ) as for his wit, generosity and wild lifestyle. One of the most often told stories about him recounts how he held up a couple and asked the gentleman for permission to dance with his beautiful young wife, which the man could hardly refuse. Duvall helped her out of the coach and danced a minuet with her on the roadside. ‘Scarce a dancing master in London, but would have been proud to have shown such agility in a pair of pumps, as Duvall showed in a great pair of French riding boots.’ His epitaph read,

 

Here lies Duvall, Reader, if male thou art,

Look to thy purse, if female, to thy heart.

...In 1709 Mrs Crackenthorpe of the Female Tatler mocked the fantasies of middle-class women dreaming mistily of being held up by a masked highwayman who kisses their sweaty palms as he takes their husbands’ money, and gallops off into the distance, his cloak streaming out behind him.

 

'Mrs Mary Fanciful, having heard a world of stories about highwaymen, has a curiosity to see one. She sets out for the bath, on Monday next, with ten guineas (not hid in the privat’st part of her coach) therefore, if any of these gentlemen please to clap an uncharged pistol to her breast, only that she may know how it is to be robbed, they shall receive the ten guineas with a sincere promise never to be prosecuted for the same. Her sister, Mrs Sarah Fanciful, wants mightily to see a ghost.'

In the ebook the Female Tatler is instead Taller in this quote. (eyeroll)

I had fun discovering a few websites discussing this periodical:

 

Issuing Her Own: The Female Tatler

University of Michigan 2002, student project. Specifically good for the authorship page - so many periodicals/pamphlets/etc. were written under pseudonyms that this is one of those continual academic problems. And of course a ladies name didn't guarantee a women writer. The links on that page aren't all working - so I'll refer you to Delarivier Manley. Who I now must find a biography on.

 

Short Excerpt from The Female Tatler

Norton Anthology of English Lit. site

 

Tatler (1709 Journal)

wikipedia entry for the original that the other Tatlers spun off from

 

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text 2015-01-15 16:57
Reading in Progress: The Thieves' Opera by Lucy Moore - Coffee Houses and Chocolate Houses
The Thieves' Opera - Lucy Moore

Sometimes I wonder if I'm giving the completely wrong impression of a book because I always focus on the particularly weird or gossipy quotes. Then I move on and continue to quote them. (I realized this could be solved if I'd just finish more of the reviews I keep meaning to get around to writing. Working on that.)

 

One thing I'm finding in comparing my paper copy of this book to the ebook (oddly still free at Amazon US) is that you miss out on all the great William Hogarth artwork, which really are great illusrations the culture. (You've probably seen them already in history books.) But then they're all easily found online. Examples: A Harlot's Progress and A Rake's Progress. Each of those Wikipedia pages shows the series of paintings/prints and describes what's going on - there's an entire life story in each. (I'd never had seen the full set this nicely until the internet came along. Great description/explanations too.)

 

Anyway, time for a juicy quote!

 

p 93:

Coffee-houses and particularly taverns were primarily frequented by men. Ladies might go to chocolate-houses during the day, but only women careless of their reputations would go to taverns. Many doubled as whore-houses or, at the least, venues for soliciting, marked by subtle signals that would have been blatantly obvious to the initiated. The ‘Sign of the Star’ outside a coffee-house was said to indicate ‘every lewd purpose’. Cesar de Saussure discovered that many coffee-houses were also ‘Temples of Venus. You can easily recognize the latter because they frequently have as sign a woman’s arm or hand holding a coffee-pot.’ The evidence in court of one Susan Brockway shows how taverns might be used:


"This man took us to the tavern and offered us a crown apiece to strip ourselves naked, and show him postures. He gave Mary Gardner money to fetch a penny-worth of rods, for him to whip us across the room, and make us good girls; and then for us to whip him to make him a good boy: but we told him it was neither a proper time nor place for any such thing, for it was Sunday night, and others might over-look us in the room we were in."

This isn't the first history book noting why women didn't go to taverns or to many places at night (without multiple escorts, not just with one dude or maid) - the reasons to avoid them were extremely good and as much about safety as propriety. So another bad romance trope: heroine goes off to tavern at night, alone, for some adventurous reason because she's rebellious and all. This happens way too often with characters that aren't supposed to be dumb as a post. But then, that's fiction. (I think the main reason I quibble is because not enough of us are aware of what incredibly cloistered, dull and dangerous lives women had at this time.)

 

Here's an example of how history books like this get me into trouble with the memory space on my ereader. After reading that quote from Cesar de Saussure I was curious - a quick google and I find:

 

A foreign view of England in the reigns of George I and George II : The letters of Monsieur Cesar de Saussure to his family; translated and edited by Madame Van Muyden (1902)

Internet Archive link (read online or download ebook) - if you follow the Open Library link on that page you can email a copy to your kindle. No idea how interesting it is - haven't read any of it yet.

 

Again, this is how I add SO much stuff to my ereader. I try to make myself read some of these books before downloading as a lot of them only seem to have interesting portions and then go into dull patches.

 

Meanwhile - chocolate. I always have a great time reading about drinking chocolate - and I have to remind myself it'd be nothing like the hot chocolate that I'm used to. A bit of fun history about drinking chocolate:

The surprising history of London's lost chocolate houses

In Georgian times, London's decadent chocolate houses were unexpected bastions of rowdy behaviour and aristocratic disorder

Dr Matthew Green, The Telegraph UK, 13 Dec 2013

 

"...For a city with little tradition of hot drinks (coffee had only arrived five years earlier), chocolate was an alien, suspect substance drunk associated with popery and idleness (i.e. France and Spain); a market had to be generated. Within the next decade, a slew of pamphlets appeared proclaiming the miraculous, panacean qualities of the new drink, which would boost fertility, cure consumption, alleviate indigestion and reverse ageing: a mere lick, it was said, would ‘make old women young and fresh, create new motions of the flesh’. For Samuel Pepys, chocolate was the perfect cure for a hangover, relieving his ‘sad head’ and ‘imbecilic stomach’ the day after Charles II’s bacchanalian coronation. The commonest claim, however — one inherited from the Aztecs and still perpetuated by chocolate companies the world over today — was that chocolate was a supremely powerful aphrodisiac. "

Ah marketing. Never does change much, huh?

 

Couldn't seem to find an article about what specifically differentiated a coffee house from a chocolate house - but I expect that was completely up to whichever product was selling better and where the shop was located.

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text 2015-01-14 17:15
Reading in Progress: The Thieves' Opera by Lucy Moore
The Thieves' Opera - Lucy Moore

[As of Jan 14, 2015 the ebook version is still free on Amazon US. Possibly Amazon UK as well.]

 

So in theory I was already juggling two nonfiction reads and this one was supposed to wait until I had one of them finished. Then I did my "oh I'll just dip in and read the first chapter" routine and so here we are.

 

Another fun part for me is that I've apparently already read some of this, because I have some marks in the book at a few parts that I remember making.

 

For instance, p 57, the rowdy sorts who used to roam London streets:

"...still others assaulted and defaced people they met on the street. Cutting off people's noses was a particular favorite."

 

The twist: those rowdies were upper class types, not common thugs. They were part of a gang called The Mohocks. (Yes, the name is derived from the American Indian tribe, if you wondered. Also note on that wikipedia page citations that question whether this group existed. Gossip/letters and tabloidy accounts of the time seem to be the main primary sources - so it's a good question.)

 

Oddly it was already not an unusual thing to see people without noses at this time - it was one of the symptoms of syphilis. (Warning, NSFW and gross medical photos at that wikipedia link. I have a couple of books I've been wanting to read about syphilis, since it had a huge effect in the literature, jokes, and lifestyles of all social classes for decades. But they're all like $30+, sigh.)

 

Many wonder why it was considered a Very Bad Idea to help beggars or people in need on the streets at this time. (It's a common romance trope: lovely girl stops to help orphan being beaten for stealing, for instance, or old lame solider, etc.)

 

p 71

"Disguise and acting were key elements in street robbery. Both pickpockets of a sort, the 'Abraham Men' pretended madness, and the 'Congek Cranks' epilepsy, to distract and disarm their prey.

 

...That crutch which late compassion moved, shall wound

Thy bleeding head, and fell thee to the ground."

 

That poetry's from John Gay's Trivia, or The Art of Walking the Streets of London.

 

On the streets no one's as they seem. Stopping to help that beggar might result in you being beaten and robbed. And he/she probably has confederates who'll help out.

 

Interestingly many of the scenarios Moore describes for pickpocketing are still in use today. If you're in a crowd and someone makes a huge fuss about something - and everyone's looking - make sure you keep an eye on your purse and pockets. Distractions like that are great moments for pickpockets.

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text 2015-01-12 21:01
US Amazon Ebook Sale Thieves Opera by Lucy Moore
The Thieves' Opera: The Remarkable Lives and Deaths of Jonathan Wild, Thief-taker and Jack Sheppard, House-breaker - Lucy Moore

This is a weird one and apt to disappear quickly.

Because the book is free.

 

Amazon US link

 

US Amazon store only, probably?

Oddly the paper book is here on my desk, as I'm planning to read it soon. I just finished Moore's book on Lord Hervey - academic, but I enjoyed it. She does lots of primary research, and includes interesting details. (I need to review that Lord Hervey book, huh.)

 

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