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This title in other editions

The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London

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The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London Cover

ISBN13: 9780805075373
ISBN10: 0805075372
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

The story of the "Italian boy" murder case was fodder for many of the lurid body-snatching tales that later emerged from the pens of Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker. This absorbing narrative evokes Fagin and Bill Sykes, the charred alleys, tottering hovels, droves of beggars, prostitutes, and low drinking dives of Oliver Twist or Bleak House. Snappy writing, excellent research, and vivid descriptions make this an extremely engrossing book.
Recommended by Fidel, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A thrilling history of England's great metropolis at a point of great change, told through the story of a young vagrant murdered by "resurrection men."

Before his murder in 1831, the "Italian boy" was one of thousands of orphans on the streets of London, moving among the livestock, hawkers, and con men, begging for pennies. When his body was sold to a London medical college, the suppliers were arrested for murder. Their high-profile trial would unveil London's furtive trade in human corpses carried out by body-snatchers — or "resurrection men" — who killed to satisfy the first rule of the cadaver market: the fresher the body, the higher the price.

Historian Sarah Wise reconstructs not only the boy's murder but the chaos and squalor of London that swallowed the fourteen-year-old vagrant long before his corpse appeared on the slab. In 1831, the city's poor were desperate and the wealthy were petrified, the population swelling so fast that old class borders could not possibly hold. All the while, early humanitarians were pushing legislation to protect the disenfranchised, the courts were establishing norms of punishment and execution, and doctors were pioneering the science of human anatomy.

As vivid and intricate as a novel by Charles Dickens, The Italian Boy restores to history the lives of the very poorest Londoners and offers an unparalleled account of the sights, sounds, and smells of a city at the brink of a major transformation.

Review:

"Wise's deft prose contributes vastly to our understanding of pre-Victorian London's everyday street life....Meanwhile, she skillfully manages the narrative, keeping her story gripping without sensationalizing it. Generously illustrated, this is a macabre yet historically serious work, invaluable to anyone interested in the truth of London's gory past." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Journalist/historian Wise debuts with a highly atmospheric account of corpse-trafficking and -killing in early-19th-century London....A fine historical and social reconstruction of a vile crime." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

As vivid and intricate as a Dickens novel, historian Wise reconstructs the 1831 murder of an orphan whose body was subsequently sold to a London medical college. The high-profile trial would expose the chaos and squalor of a growing city at the brink of modernity.

About the Author

A historian of Victorian England, Sarah Wise has written for The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, and several magazines. The Italian Boy is her first book. She lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

brutus_ohiostate, April 23, 2007 (view all comments by brutus_ohiostate)
The book was very interesting. It really allowed you to get into the story and figure out what London was like in these times.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805075373
Subtitle:
A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London
Author:
Wise, Sarah
Publisher:
Metropolitan Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Murder
Subject:
London
Subject:
Modern - 19th Century
Subject:
Poor
Subject:
Body snatching.
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain - General
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Murder - General
Subject:
Great britain
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
71
Publication Date:
20040601
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
65 bandw illus. throughout
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
1400x1800 1

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » Hanover to Victorian Period
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
History and Social Science » World History » England » London

The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805075373 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The story of the "Italian boy" murder case was fodder for many of the lurid body-snatching tales that later emerged from the pens of Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker. This absorbing narrative evokes Fagin and Bill Sykes, the charred alleys, tottering hovels, droves of beggars, prostitutes, and low drinking dives of Oliver Twist or Bleak House. Snappy writing, excellent research, and vivid descriptions make this an extremely engrossing book.

"Review" by , "Wise's deft prose contributes vastly to our understanding of pre-Victorian London's everyday street life....Meanwhile, she skillfully manages the narrative, keeping her story gripping without sensationalizing it. Generously illustrated, this is a macabre yet historically serious work, invaluable to anyone interested in the truth of London's gory past."
"Review" by , "Journalist/historian Wise debuts with a highly atmospheric account of corpse-trafficking and -killing in early-19th-century London....A fine historical and social reconstruction of a vile crime."
"Synopsis" by , As vivid and intricate as a Dickens novel, historian Wise reconstructs the 1831 murder of an orphan whose body was subsequently sold to a London medical college. The high-profile trial would expose the chaos and squalor of a growing city at the brink of modernity.
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