Saturday, August 30, 2008

Female Pugilists

Copy of an advertisement in a Diurnal Print in June, 1722.

CHALLENGE:- I, Elizabeth Wilkinson, of Clerkenwell, having had some words with Hannah Hyfield, and requiring satisfaction, do invite her to meet me on the stage, and box me for three guineas ; each woman holding half-a-crown in each hand, and the first woman that drops the money to lose the battle.

ANSWER:- I, Hannah Hyfield, of Newgate-market, hearing of the resoluteness of Elizabeth Wilkinson, will not fail, God willing, to give her more blows than words -- desiring home blows, and from her no favour: she may expect a good thumping.

Many of the greatest prize-fighters of England were trained by their mothers, as was Hammer Lane, whose story is told in Famous Fights past and present, Vol. V, no. 53 (c.1902), edited by Harold Furniss >

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ratsey's Ghost 1605

The first known species of criminal literature in England were about the life and execution of Elizabethan highwayman Gamaliell Ratsey who disguised his phiz with an owl mask while carrying out his criminal endeavors. (London) Pub. for the Shakespeare association by H. Milford, Oxford university press, 1935.

Facsimiles of two pamphlets published shortly after Ratsey's death in 1605. "The life and death of Gamaliell Ratsey" is reproduced from the original copy now in the Bodleian library and "Ratseyes ghost" from the copy in the John Rylands library, Manchester.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Comrades in Arms

Boy's Herald Volume II no. 27, July 7, 1877. A link list of Boy's Herald posts in order >

Boy’s Herald I

Boy’s Herald II

Boy’s Herald III

Boy’s Herald IV

Boy’s Herald V

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Fighting Bob" Minor

Masses and Mainstream, successor to Masses and Liberator had a cover photo and article, "Fighting Bob" Minor, in the January 1953 issue, a eulogy by a neighbour, Joseph North.

Mornings at Bow Street

H. R. Fox Bourne wrote of the Morning Herald newspapers in English Newspapers, Chapters in the History of Journalism (1887) that >

‘The Morning Herald’ was for a few years the most formidable rival of the ‘Times,’ not in the collection of foreign news or in the writing of vigorous leaders, but in an extension of journalism that took the public’s fancy. Until this time, though parliamentary proceedings were reported fully, cases in the law or police courts were seldom recorded, or only briefly hinted at, unless at the conclusion of a trial its details were considered interesting enough to be set forth at length and in complete form. Police cases decided in a few hours were frequently given, of course, if they were deemed amusing, and as part of the current scandal, in each morning’s papers, but with no attempt at thoroughness till ‘The Morning Chronicle’ and ‘The Morning Herald’ set the fashion. But, whereas ‘The Chronicle’ reported serious cases in order to comment seriously on them and insist upon necessary reforms, ‘The Herald,’ with a keener eye to present profit and popularity, tried only or chiefly to be amusing or sensational in its excursions in this new field of journalism. Thomas Wright, a reporter on the staff of the latter paper, has the credit of making the change, and government interference encouraged it. <

Following is a perfect example of the Herald’s amusing style, a style still in use in 1842. I have been unable to track down Mr. Edward Dobson, Mr. Henry Augustus Wells, or the “Penny Library of Original Romance.” The names may have been changed but the circumstances are a sharp description of the lives of those who provided cheap reading material for the working classes. >

At the Court of Requests, Westminster, Mr. Edward Dobson, a short thick-set, chubby faced personage, of about fifty years of age, attired in a rough weather-worn pilot-coat, appeared before the commissioners to answer the summons of Mr. Henry Augustus Wells, a poor shivering skeleton of humanity, who stated himself to be an author, and whose face was “sicklied o’er with a pale cast” of hunger. The plaintiff stated his claim to be for 1l. 10s., the value of the first three chapters of three original romances which the defendant had engaged him to write for a certain penny periodical about to be published, entitled the “Penny Library of Original Romance,” a work of cheap literature for the lower orders. The romances thus to be written were, “Mat Mizen, a Tale of the Sea;” “Alice Lowe; or, the Lady and the Lord;” and “Betsy Bell, the Poor-Law Victim;” portions of which, amounting altogether to 90 closely written pages, had been written for and delivered to the defendant, according to his order.

Commissioner (to the defendant) - Do you admit this, sir?

Defendant: I admit the delivery of the quantity, but I object to the quality, as not being what I ordered. The writing is too tame to suit the penny readers. In “Mat Mizen” I wanted a ghost in the first chapter, and a storm at sea; then in “Alice Lowe” I ordered a startling scene of seduction; and in “Betsy Bell” a scene of misery at a lodging house in St. Giles’s, none of which the plaintiff has given.

Plaintiff: It is impossible to throw all the incidents you want into the first chapter. You have got a robbery, two murders, and a sea-fight, and I think, if you will hand my manuscript up to the commissioners, and let it be read -

Commissioner: What! the whole ninety pages! no; we are not so fond of romance here. You had better settle this matter between you, for we do not profess to be versed in the mysteries of literature.

Plaintiff: If the defendant will give me a sovereign for the ninety pages, I’ll be content, and I’ll bring the ghost, and the storm at sea, and the seduction, into the next three chapters.

To this proposal the defendant agreed, and having paid the money into Court, the parties adjourned amicably into a public-house, to discuss, over a pipe and pot, the present state of literature among the lower orders.

> Literature for the Lower Orders. Morning Herald, 3 Dec 1842

Wright, or Wight, edited Mornings at Bow Street, a popular selection of amusing crime reports from the Herald’s columns, with illustrations by George Cruikshank. Mornings at Bow Street was published in 1824.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Opium Den

“What shall I read, ma’am?” asked Jack.

“”What is there?” retorted the old woman. “How should I know? Is it a King or a Queen we’ve got now? Is there battles anywhere, or floods, or big fires, or railway accidents? Never mind, though; I don’t care to hear any of that. Read me some horrid murder. Are there any horrid murders in that paper?”

Runaway Jack by C. H. Ross from Boy’s Herald Vol. I No. 18, May 5, 1877. Jack is now in London, the great Metropolis. I’m skipping ahead to an exciting instalment which features thrilling chapters titled Treachery, Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire, The Thames Smugglers and The Opium Den. First installment HERE.

Boy's Herald No. 15

Runaway Jack; or, the Fool in the Family by Charles H. Ross, illustrated by Frederick Gilbert, Boy’s Herald Vol. I No. 15, April 14, 1877. The first instalment of Ross’ serial and a puzzle page illustrated by Archibald Chasemore. Ross was the well-known creator of the comic character Ally Sloper in Judy. Ross did anything he could for a bit of the ready including write puzzle-pages for various boys magazines.

Boy's Herald Second Number

Boy's Herald Vol I No. 2 continued The Young Rebels and began Black Adder; or, the Wreckers of the Channel. The serial Black Adder; or, the Wreckers of the Channel was, in reality, James Malcolm Rymer's Sea-Drift, or the Wreckers of the Channel, reprinted from Reynolds's Miscellany, Vol. XXXI No. 799 from way back in October 3, 1863 and illustrated by Frederick Gilbert. Rymer was the creator of Sweeney Todd. the two Charley Lance pages are illustrated by R. Huttula and the Puck drawing was a preface to Volume I. I'm not sure who drew this one.

Boy's Herald First Number

I posted a history of John Dick's Boy's Herald HERE and now for a closer look at the first number for January 6, 1877. The title story is by Henry Baker illustrated by D. H. Friston. Next an account of true-life hero Shaw the Life Guardsman, Jem the Diver by A. W. Thompson, Charley Lance by popular boys author George Manville Fenn, the final page with advertisements and a puzzle-page with cartoons by Archibald Chasemore.