Themed Set: The creation of a Newgate Calendar legend

This site owes a fair few posts to the Newgate Calendar, a heap of crime stories collected higgledy-piggledy in the 18th and 19th century. For a time, it was one of the books most commonly found in English homes.

Though we have even seen fit to feature it in a series, the Calendar as a source is typically much more interested in moralizing than in journalistic accuracy. Botched years and dates are the least of it; there are stories created from whole cloth, or wantonly transposed from one malefactor to another, and filtered by way of some third-hand source that has completely twisted the details.

Inasmuch as our interest hereabouts runs to the social life of the hanging-tree, we often have reason to welcome the Newgate Calendar’s inventions. But it should be certainly understood that it’s a source requiring care … as the next three posts will underscore.

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