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The Regency Underworld Paperback – June 25, 2000
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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.
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Top customer reviews
I purchased this book as I am doing some research into the period and it didn't disappoint. The book focuses on the darker side of life which is present in every society in some form.
If you are looking to understand our history and human nature you will discover that soccer hooliganism is nothing new.
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.