Underworld London : Crime and Punishment in the Capital City, Paperback

Underworld London : Crime and Punishment in the Capital City Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Beginning with an atmospheric account of Tyburn, we are set up for a grisly excursion through London as a city of ne'er do wells, taking in beheadings and brutality at the Tower, Elizabethan street crime, cutpurses and con-men, through to the Gordon Riots and Highway robbery of the 18thcentury and the rise of prisons, the police and the Victorian era of incarceration.

As well as the crimes, Arnold also looks at the grotesque punishments meted out to those who transgressed the law throughout London's history - from the hangings, drawings and quarterings at Tyburn over 500 years to being boiled in oil at Smithfield.

This popular historian also investigates the influence of London's criminal classes on the literature of the 19thand 20thcenturies, and ends up with our old favourites, the Krays and Soho gangs of the 50s and 60s. London's crimes have changed over the centuries, both in method and execution.

Underworld London traces these developments, from the highway robberies of the eighteenth century, made possible by the constant traffic of wealthy merchants in and out of the city, to the beatings, slashings and poisonings of the Victorian era.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, B&W illus
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: British & Irish history
  • ISBN: 9781849832922



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Catharine Arnold writes a good book; this is the third of hers I have read on London and I’m off to hunt for the fourth of her series. “Underground London” covers the history of crime in the city, stretching from the highway men to Jack the Ripper and the gonophs of Victorian times. We also get a insight into the prisons of London and the forms of punishment throughout the centuries; basically you were lucky if you were cleanly beheaded by a professional executioner.Combine this with eyebrow raising descriptions of Victorian England as the golden age of pederasty and you have a book which you’ll be talking about for a while after. Particularly the bit about the gonophs.

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