Synopses & Reviews
In the popular imagination, informed as it is by Hogarth, Swift, Defoe and Fielding, the eighteenth-century underworld is a place of bawdy knockabout, rife with colourful eccentrics. But the artistic portrayals we have only hint at the dark reality. In this new edition of a classic collection of essays, renowned social historians from Britain and America examine the gangs of criminals who tore apart English society, while a criminal law of unexampled savagery struggled to maintain stability.
Douglas Hay deals with the legal system that maintained the propertied classes, and in another essay shows it in brutal action against poachers; John G. Rule and Cal Winslow tell of smugglers and wreckers, showing how these activities formed a natural part of the life of traditional communities. Together with Peter Linebaugh’s piece on the riots against the surgeons at Tyburn, and E. P. Thompson’s illuminating work on anonymous threatening letters, these essays form a powerful contribution to the study of social tensions at a transformative and vibrant stage in English history.
This new edition includes a new introduction by Winslow, Hay and Linebaugh, reflecting on the turning point in the social history of crime that the book represents.
"Provocative, full of insights into neglected phases of eighteenth-century social history, and at times profound." J. H. Plumb
"Close, meticulous scholarship, imagination, a joyous use of literary and 'qualitative' evidence ... and the driving force of commitment make it memorable" The Guardian
"Immensely advances our understanding both of Hanoverian England and of the relationship between law and society in general." The Observer
"Erudite ... and elegantly pungent." Keith Thomas, author of < i=""> Religion and the Decline of Magic <>
Leading historians present a fascinating collection of essays on the eighteenth-century legal system and those who passed through it.
Renowned social historians examine the gangs of criminals who tore apart English society.
About the Author
teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Department of History in York University in Toronto. His books include Criminal Cases on the Crown Side of King's Bench 1740-1800
, Masters, Servants and Magistrates in Britain and the Empire, 1562-1955
, and Eighteenth-Century English Society: Shuttles and Swords
is an American historian and Professor at the University of Toledo. He writes extensively on British history, Irish history, labor history and the history of the colonial Atlantic. His books include The Magna Carta Manifesto
, The Many-Headed Hydra
and The London Hanged
, and contributes frequently to CounterPunch
.John G. Rule
is Professor Emeritus at the University of Southampton. He is the author of The Experience of Labour in the Eighteenth Century
, The Labouring Classes in Early Industrial England 1750-1850
, The Vital Century: England's Developing Economy
, and Albion's People, English Society
.E. P. Thompson
was a British historian, essayist, poet and peace campaigner. He founded the Centre for the Study of Social History at Warwick University in 1965; his Whigs and Hunters
is a companion to Albion's Fatal Tree
. His best-known book is the magisterial The Making of the English Working Class
Cal Winslow is a Fellow in Environmental History at UC Berkeley and is Director of the Mendocino Institute. His is author of Labor's Civil War in California and an editor of Rebel Rank and File. He edited Waterfront Workers: New Perspectives on Race and Class and is co-author of the forthcoming West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California.