Tuesday, December 29, 2009

United Kingdom Press

The United Kingdom Press, of 28, Brydges St, Strand, is one of the lesser known penny dreadful publishers of the 1860’s. From 1805-1836 No. 28 was occupied by The News. Renton Nicholson’s racy newspaper The Town was published here in the 1830’s and another contemporary neighbour was the penny blood publishers James and George Pattie. The Drury Lane Theatre faced Bridges (or Bridges) Street and backed onto Drury Lane. The London Romance Company’s penny dreadful Rose Mortimer; or, The Ballet-Girl's Revenge Being the Romance and Reality of a Pretty Actress's Life Behind the Scenes and Before the Curtain was written by “a Comedian of the T. R. Drury Lane.”

Brydges Street, in Covent Garden, 300 yards west of the main publishing area of Fleet Street, was renamed Catherine Street. It was at one time a disgusting slum full of gin-houses and prostitutes until it was flattened in 1900 and replaced by the Royal Courts of Justice. (Thanks to Nick McBride for his help with the geography.)

The UK Press was the first publisher of Charley Wag, The New Jack Sheppard, and The Woman With the Yellow Hair, probably written by Charles Henry Ross and Ernest Warren, Mysteries of the Divorce Court, and Gipsey Madge, or; the Thieves of London. We can add a slew of titles from the advertisement below found in scraps saved by Ono. Incidentally Barry Ono was falsely accused of inventing the Varney the Vulture as a ghost-title.

They also published the works of the Countess Constance D’Orsay, the Female Sailor, author of the Black Flag; or, The Pirate Fiend of the Secret Cave and Varney the Vulture; or, the Track of the Doomed, a penny dreadful western. Although the Countess was a real person, the wife of the famous dandy Count D’Orsay, I can make no claims to the accuracy of the ‘biography’ given below.