The Last Chartist Petition – Part Two

This really happened... In the wake of the Trafalgar Square riots, the Duke of Wellington himself, then in his seventy-ninth year, was called upon by his government to protect the nation once again. This time the Iron Duke was tasked with defending London against the dangerous radicals that were intent on marching en masse to… Continue reading The Last Chartist Petition – Part Two

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The Last Chartist Petition – Part One

The million-strong People's Vote March today put me in mind of the Chartists. OK, I know that Chartism didn't end well, with the final petition discredited by the Tories (claiming the signatures were fake, the demonstration much smaller than it was, and turning out the army), but everything they were fighting for has since come… Continue reading The Last Chartist Petition – Part One

The Newgate Controversy

A new article for the Wordsworth Editions Blog, touching upon the subject of my next book from Pen & Sword History... When considering an author as culturally monolithic as Charles Dickens, it’s easy to forget that he wasn’t born the national author, anymore than Shakespeare was. As a young journalist in the early-1830s, although already… Continue reading The Newgate Controversy

The Real Harry Flashman

Speaking of Victorian pornography, here's an extract from my new book, The 19th Century Underworld, published by Pen & Sword Books... Edward Sellon was a particularly colourful public school Dugdale writer. A subaltern in the 4th Regiment of the East India Company Madras Infantry and a libertine of the old school, Sellon could have been… Continue reading The Real Harry Flashman

The Pornographer Royal

I was interviewed by Southwark News this week, talking about Henry Spencer Ashbee, Victorian businessman and erotomaniac... There are quite a few unusual things about Henry Spencer Ashbee, a Victorian gentleman who was born in the Rising Sun inn on Blackfriars Road in 1834. He was a self-made man and an only child in an… Continue reading The Pornographer Royal

The 19th Century Underworld

My latest book, The 19th Century Underworld: Crime, Controversy and Corruption (published by Pen & Sword), goes on sale today. The book is available on Amazon here Or you can buy direct from the publisher Here's a brief extract... The City’s Sacred Victim The Ratcliffe Highway was an ancient road running east out of the City to… Continue reading The 19th Century Underworld

A Stroll On The Heath

This is another fragment found amongst the Jack Vincent Papers, the first volume of which I edited and published last year. Like the story of the murderer George Slaughter, this curious little anecdote was not part of the packet containing the second memoir, and I confess that I am not entirely sure where it belongs. I’ve decided to share it here because it confirms my theory that Jack Vincent and the author and traveller George Borrow knew each other, while also providing an interesting portrait of my hometown, Norwich, in the early-1850s…