The City’s Sacred Victim

An extract from my new book, The 19th Century Underworld, published by Pen & Sword Books... The Ratcliffe Highway was an ancient road running east out of the City to Limehouse, dating back to at least Roman times, close to the new London Docks and forming the unofficial Wapping boundary. Cutting its way through Tower… Continue reading The City’s Sacred Victim

Advertisements

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

Author delves into the dark past of city’s infamous murderer

Review of The 19th Century Underworld by Derek James... He was one of the most infamous killers in the country and a wax effigy of John Thurtell was displayed in Madame Tussaud’s ‘Chamber of Horrors’ well into the 20th century... such was the horrific nature of his crime. The gruesome and fascinating story of this Norwich… Continue reading Author delves into the dark past of city’s infamous murderer

Looking into Hell: Kipling and the Great War

Guest post for Wordsworth Editions... During a visit in the winter of 1918, Rider Haggard – who believed in reincarnation – asked Rudyard Kipling if he thought the earth was one of the hells. His old friend replied that he did not think this, he was certain of it (qtd. in Wilson: 1994, 306). And… Continue reading Looking into Hell: Kipling and the Great War

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 Real Harry Flashman Edward Sellon was a particularly colourful public school Dugdale writer. A subaltern in the… Continue reading The 19th Century Underworld

The Dark Places of the Earth

Caine and Connery

Guest piece for Wordsworth Editions. In ‘The Man Who Would Be King,’ Rudyard Kipling described the Native States of India as, ‘the dark places of the earth, full of unimaginable cruelty, touching the Railway and the Telegraph on one side, and, on the other, the days of Harun-al-Raschid’ (Kipling: 1890, 69). In this allegory of… Continue reading The Dark Places of the Earth

The Strange Fiction of Oliver Onions

Wordsworth Oliver Onions cover detail

Guest post for Wordsworth Editions… Oliver Onions did not believe in ghosts. Nonetheless, as a prolific author of popular fiction across genres in the first half of the twentieth century, if he is remembered at all these days, it is as a writer of startling and original ghost stories. Historically, these were not easy to… Continue reading The Strange Fiction of Oliver Onions

Resurrection, Corpse Art, and How the Father of Modern Surgery Stole the Irish Giant

The Irish Giant

Something a little spooky for Christmas Eve, a new guest post for Dirty, Sexy History. This is a background episode I had to cut from The 19th Century Underworld because of space... By the middle of the eighteenth century, medical science in Britain was rapidly evolving. Surgeons had split from the Worshipful Company of Barbers as a… Continue reading Resurrection, Corpse Art, and How the Father of Modern Surgery Stole the Irish Giant

‘An Artist is Meant to be Extreme’: David Cronenberg’s Creative Manifesto

Cronenberg

Something for Halloween, originally published in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2012) edited by W. Hughes, D. Punter & A. Smith... David Cronenberg is a Canadian auteur filmmaker who made his name with intelligent, innovative and graphic horror films. His work explores human fears and desires not commonly expressed in cinema, such as disease,… Continue reading ‘An Artist is Meant to be Extreme’: David Cronenberg’s Creative Manifesto

The Saw Is Family: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Meaning of Murder

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

This week, horror fans and old goths like me around the world mourn the passing of Tobe Hooper, who died on Saturday at the age of 74, barely a month-and-a-half after we lost George A. Romero. Few directors get to redefine a genre, but Romero and Hooper both achieved this with Night of the Living… Continue reading The Saw Is Family: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Meaning of Murder