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The Murderer of Warren Street: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Revolutionary Hardcover – 31 May 2018
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"[A] remarkable book. It’s an extraordinary story, full of incident, drama and dark comedy" (Daily Mail)
"The Murderer of Warren Street begins as a penny-dreadful and develops into a dual portrait of London and Paris in an age of discontent, conspiracy and revolution. Our hero (or villain) is Barthélemy, a charismatic mix of Spartacus, the Scarlet Pimpernel and Jean Valjean. The Paris chapters have the ring of Victor Hugo, the London chapters are murkily Dickensian. Is Barthélemy an enigmatic outsider like John Harmon, alias Rokesmith, pulled from the Thames in Our Mutual Friend? Or a skulking, ungovernable menace like Rigaud in Little Dorrit?
Mulholland tells Barthélemy’s story with speed and confidence. As a life, Barthélemy’s has it all: double crossings, sabotaged pistols, secret safe houses, disguises, affairs with Italian actresses, brutal guards, prison breaks, rooftop escapes over icy slates and a French femme fatale who may or may not be a spy." (Laura Freeman The Times)
"A Victorian whodunit... Swashbuckling adventure and political thriller... Until now Emmanuel Barthélemy has not taken centre stage – which seems astonishing. Marc Mulholland must have hugged himself with glee when he had the idea. He has done it full justice… A magnificent book." (Francis Wheen The Oldie)
"A biography that begins with a bang... In dealing with this unsympathetic figure, Mulholland proves to be an excellent guide: knowledgeable, fair-minded, and even handed." (Robert Douglas-Fairhurst Spectator)
"The Murderer of Warren Street unravels a real-life Victorian mystery that ended in the last formal duel fought on British soil – but it does much more than that. Mulholland plunges us into the dark world of European socialism, and its cast includes famous figures like Karl Marx and Victor Hugo as well as the sinister yet admirable figure of Barthélémy.
" (David Bellos, author of The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables)
From the Inside Flap
The true story of one of nineteenth-century London’s most notorious murderers.
On 8 December 1854, Emmanuel Barthélemy visited 73 Warren Street in the heart of radical London for the very last time. In just half an hour, two innocent men would be dead.
The newspapers of Victorian England were soon in a frenzy. Who was this foreigner come to British shores to slay two upstanding subjects? As Oxford historian, Marc Mulholland, has uncovered, Barthélemy was no ordinary criminal. Rather, here was a dedicated activist fighting for the cause of the oppressed worker, a fugitive shaped by the storms of revolution, counterrevolution and a society in the midst of huge transformation.
Following in Barthélemy’s footsteps, Mulholland leads us from the barricades of the French capital and the icy rooftops of a Parisian jail to the English fireside of Karl Marx, a misty duelling ground and the dangling noose of London's Newgate prison, shining a light into a dark underworld of conspiracy, insurrection and fatal idealism.
The Murderer of Warren Street is a thrilling portrait of a troubled man in troubled times - full of resonance for our own terrorised age.
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Mullholand portrays London, Paris at a time of discontent and revolution. The murder story bounds along with pace. The character of Barthelemy is one of cunning, double-crossings, crime, prison breaks and affairs. The author is a Professor of Modern History at Oxford. He specialises in the history of political thought, revolution and modern Ireland. He hails from County Antrim and is one of 9 children. His factual book reads like fiction. His central character was born in 1823 in Marseilles. At the age of 16 he joined a secret society in Paris. Its oath was violently anti monarchs. Few weeks later he killed a policeman. He got forced labour on a galley. On release he set up his own secret revolutionary club. He was involved in the bloody 1848 Revolution. 500 rebels died at the barricades, 3000 killed in the aftermath. Almost 12,000 were arrested. He was incarcerated in a brutal military prison. He escaped during a riot. Once free he got a passage to England in 1849 and joined a socialist society and sparked at a fencing club with Karl Marx, fought a duel and plotted to return to Paris to kill Napoleon 111. It is an amazing tale but the Professor has not been able to solve the mystery of the murder in Warren Street. The murderer was caught and sentenced to hang. Read what happened to Barthelemy.
There are 18 chapters the last one is Barthelemy's Confession; illustrations, notes and a short bibliography. The author contrasts life in London with that in Paris. We earn about industry, the economy and social life in mid 19 th century. Mullholand came across this tale while searching for a character he could use in a novel. The beauty of this extremely well written account is not only the discovery of a remarkable 19th century revolutionary but the description of the world through which Emmanuel travelled. It is a world undergoing change, revolution and counter-revolution are one of the reasons. Much is relevant to our times.
This is a really fascinating book which takes a little known crime and explores the rich seam of history behind it. The story of the Paris Revolutionaries of the late 1840s is not particularly well known - they feature in Les Miserables - however Barthelemy is a character that surpasses fiction. It is obvious that this was a clever and driven man but his actions are wild and almost unbelievable. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.