We get to know the trumpeter John Grano who wined and dined with the prison governor and continued to compose music whilst other prisoners were tortured and starved to death. And then there's Joshua Reeve Lowe, who saved Queen Victoria from assassination in Hyde Park in 1820, but whose heroism couldn't save him from the Marshalsea.
For Londoners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, debt was a part of everyday life. But when your creditors lost their patience, you might be thrown into one of the capital's most notorious jails- the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison.
In Mansions of Misery, acclaimed chronicler of the capital Jerry White introduces us to the Marshalsea's unfortunate prisoners - rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. We get to know the trumpeter John Grano who wined and dined with the prison governor and continued to compose music whilst other prisoners were tortured and starved to death. We meet the bare-knuckle fighter known as the Bold Smuggler, who fell on hard times after being beaten by the Chelsea Snob. And then there's Joshua Reeve Lowe, who saved Queen Victoria from assassination in Hyde Park in 1820, but whose heroism couldn't save him from the Marshalsea. Told through these extraordinary lives, Mansions of Misery gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.
Professor Jerry White teaches London history at Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of an acclaimed trilogy of London from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. His more recent books include Mansions of Misery- A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison and Zeppelin Nights, a social history of London during the First World War. He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the University of London in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
"This colourful, exuberant, brilliantly detailed account by Jerry White is the latest in a long list of irreplaceable books about London." -- Simon Callow Guardian "[It] is searching and brimful of intriguing characters." -- John Carey Sunday Times "[A] marvellous history of the Marshalsea Debtor's Prison... In vivid prose White conjures a murky underworld of jailbird chancers and scufflers of one stripe or another." -- Ian Thomson Evening Standard - London Books of the Year "[An] excellent, detailed book." -- Hermione Eyre Spectator "A factual portrait of desperate and roughish Londoners that is as startling as anything in Dickens. Its wealth of anecdote and sympathetic style, spiced with witty observations makes this the very opposite of a miserable read." -- George Goodwin BBC History Magazine, Book of the Year
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