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The Regency Underworld (Sutton History Classics) Paperback – October 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Sutton History Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750940476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750940474
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,410,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

London's underworld at the turn of the 19th century was a complex, vibrant, macabre scene, teeming with high-stakes gamblers, underage pickpockets, drunkards, prostitutes and con men. According to Low, professor emeritus of English at the University of Stirling, the years 1800-1830 represented a "breathing space for the nation," a "final fling" before the advent of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne. This revised edition of a work first published in England in 1982 provides extensive excerpts from contemporary diaries, letters and memoirs. Readers familiar with Vanity Fair and Oliver Twist will find Low's portraits of society prostitutes and nine-year-old thieves mastered by sinister "fences" particularly illuminating, but all will locate something juicy or disturbing here, such as the description of the hard-drinking "resurrection-men," or body-snatchers, who exhumed fresh corpses for dissection by the age's leading surgeons. Often absorbing, the book does sometimes linger too long, as when Low dwells on various unsuccessful efforts to install a centralized police force to replace the city's dozing watchmen, or when he details the popular appeal of "Tom and Jerry," two comic rogues who dominated the day's pages and stages. But if this pair, with their underworld cant, now seem obscure, other Regency characters seem as fresh as today's newsAsuch as Mary Anne Clarke, rejected mistress of the Duke of York, who brought the nation to a standstill by testifying in Parliament about their illicit affair. 50 b&w illustrations.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Donald A. Low is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Stirling.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on April 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The seamier side of London in the early nineteenth century written with flare. This book was an enjoyable romp through the back streets, slums and 'rookeries' of London and the attempts by authorities to control them.
The book is packed full of detail of the people of the time including some of the more famous characters such as fences and theives and the methods they used to continue their trade. You can read about 'Mudlarks and scuffle hunters' of the river Thames, or if you prefer, the 'resurrectionists' who traded in dead bodies for medical students.
Low also draws deeply on literature of the time such as Pierce Egan's "Life in London" which is chock full of authentic Regency-era slang. For instance Money could be referred to as "Blunt, rhino, flash the screens, sport the rhino, show the needful, post the pony, nap the rent, stump the pewter, tip the brads down with the dust only get into tip street."
Some great illustrations and a fun trip into the life among the lower orders.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Sullivan on August 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
When this book popped up on my reading rotation, I was really looking forward to what promised to be an interesting work. After all, how could an author miss with the subject matter of crime (and, hopefully, punishment) during one of the most deliciously dissolute periods of English history? Well, turns out that if he concentrates the major portion of the first part of the book on a too detailed background of the founding of the Metropolitan Police and only the last, relatively few, pages to interesting portraits of four of the era's notable scalawags, it can be done. In short, should have provided more vignettes and less of what amounts to legislative history. Overall, it reminded me of Jessica Warner's "Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason:" much promised, less delivered.
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I'm doing research on Regency London and was hoping this title would provide more detailed information about the "lowlife" of the period. This title has great information, but I found the writing style a bit stilted. This book is also not intended for the novice reader; if you don't already have a background in the period, you might get quickly lost. I would like to see an update that includes a couple of period maps of the city, a rewrite to improve the writing style, and more detailed information on prostitution, Bow Street, the Marine Police, Tyburn, and more early 1800's coverage. I love to see more on "thieves cant" as well as more on the East End warrens (building descriptions, interiors, etc.). This is a great start on an interesting topic.
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