It was the time of Jack the Ripper and White Chapel opium dens, the era of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Robert Louis Stevenson’s chilling The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But it was also a time when the death penalty and the treatment of criminals began to come into question. It was Victorian Britain on the cusp of the modern age.
This detailed study of the criminal justice system in Victorian Britain highlights the dilemmas facing those responsible for administering justice and protecting society from “the criminal.”
Encompassing the crimes of the never-identified Jack the Ripper, as well as many other equally intriguing criminals, Hooligans, Harlots, and Hangmen: Crime and Punishment in Victorian Britain is a detailed study of the criminal justice system as it evolved from the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the outbreak of the “Great War” in 1914.
The first section of the book considers crimes and criminals, while the second looks at the ways in which the Victorians sought to explain this deviant behavior. The third section focuses on the creation of criminals through the work of the constabulary and the courts. The final section considers the changing ways in which criminals were punished as the scaffold gave way to the prison as the dominant means of punishment. A brief introduction and conclusion set Victorian crime into its broader sociopolitical context and relates the issues society grappled with then to those of the present day.
Features • Draws heavily on primary documents and contemporary accounts of crime and punishment • Includes a range of two dozen contemporary illustrations
Highlights • Offers a unique way to examine and understand Victorian society • Discusses issues, such as the use of the death penalty and drug legislation, that are relevant today, just as they were controversial in Victorian times • Provides an overall interpretation of the evolution of Britain’s criminal justice system • Offers a comprehensive survey of recent specialist literature on the subject
David Taylor is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK, and is the author of The New Police in Nineteenth Century England: Crime, Conflict, and Control; Crime, Policing and Punishment in England, 1750-1914, and Policing the Victorian Town: The Development of the Police in Middlesbrough c. 1840-1914.
Reviews "Taylor's book is the first volume in a new series, A Criminal History of Britain, which appears aimed at offering serious academic syntheses of different periods while remaining accessible to a broad readership. While it is too early to judge the series as a whole, Taylor certainly ensures it an excellent start. . . . David Taylor's book deserves to become a standard work on nineteenth-century crime and criminal justice. I have little doubt it will do so."—Journal of Social History
"Recommended. Most levels/libraries."—Choice
Endorsements "David Taylor's well-written and gripping account throws much light not only on Victorian crime and punishment, but also on the culture and society of what was then the world's leading power."—Jeremy Black, Department of Exeter, University of Exeter