- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; 01 edition (5 Oct. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099593327
- ISBN-13: 978-0099593324
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Mansions of Misery: A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison Paperback – 5 Oct 2017
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"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)
About the Author
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.
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The characters you encounter here will stay with you. There's the short, dark & handsome celebrity musician John Baptist Grano, who helpfully kept an informative & rather riveting diary for the whole of his 16-month 'stay' in the Marshalsea, and illuminated the peculiar and complex world of hierarchies, relationships, commerce and- bizarrely- credit, within its walls. Money, Grano found, oiled the wheels as completely inside as out, and could buy anything from fine food to female companionship.
White has uncovered, through painstaking and dogged research, a host of jaw-dropping and previously-untold stories, like that of the unfortunate Joshua Reeve Lowe, who bravely intervened in an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, was briefly feted for it, but ended up in the Marshalsea as a direct result of trying to seize the chance to better himself. The irony of his ending up in the Queen's Bench debtors' prison was probably not lost on him.
I'd recommend this book highly, to anyone interested in the 19th century, London history, Dickens, or previously-untold stories of the place that haunted that celebrated writer to the end of his days.
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