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

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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

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 Strange Fiction of Oliver Onions

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

Work in Progress

Carvber 19th Century Underworld cover

Hi Everyone You might have noticed that this blog has gone a little quiet lately, though if you're interested I recently did a piece on the ghost stories of Oliver Onions for Wordsworth Editions which you can find here. Anyway, I'm still around, but not posting right now because I'm currently working on this project… Continue reading Work in Progress

A Chronology of the Other 19th Century

The War of the Worlds

A bit of fun... 1804 – Death of Natty Bumppo (AKA 'Hawkeye') on the American frontier, aged eighty. 1805 – Omegarus, the spirit of the last man born in the far future before humanity becomes sterile, appears to Jean-Baptiste Cousin de Grainvilleis in a cave in Syria with a vision of the end of the world. 1811 –… Continue reading A Chronology of the Other 19th Century

Duel at Chalk Farm Tavern: A Regency Tragedy

Duel from Mysteries of the Court of London

Guest post for Geri Walton's Blog: Unique Histories from the 18th and 19th Centuries... On the night of Friday, February 16, 1821, two men faced each other across the field of honour, a wooded knoll beyond the Chalk Farm Tavern near Primrose Hill, to the north of a great chase that had yet to become… Continue reading Duel at Chalk Farm Tavern: A Regency Tragedy

The Lays of Ancient Rome

Pan and the Goat

A guest post for Dirty, Sexy History - 'Skipping to the good stuff with Jessica Cale...' On August 24, 79AD, the day after Vulcanalia, the festival of the god of fire, Hell came to the Gulf of Naples. Vesuvius erupted and a searing pyroclastic cloud scorched, choked and buried the prosperous provincial Roman cities of… Continue reading The Lays of Ancient Rome