Friday 18 December 2009

Murder and Victorian mayhem

This is definitely the time of year for sitting in the warm with a good book, so Lee Jackson couldn't have better timed the release of his latest novel. The Diary of a Murder, 'set in 1860s suburban Islington, traces the background to a middle-class housewife's murder through the pages of her husband's diary.' Appropriately for the season, it's being published as a free ebook: read it here.

Lee Jackson has written a number of novels set in Victorian London, all of which I've really enjoyed. He is also responsible for the amazing Victorian London website, a huge and wide-ranging collection of material covering most aspects of the nineteenth-century metropolis. Particularly apt for today is this letter from The Times of 17 December 1840. It shows not only that the city was experiencing similar weather, but also that some Victorians would have felt very much at home with ASBOs, complaints about policing and the like:
Sir, - I am much surprised to see that one of the most dangerous nuisances which, under the provisions of the Police Act, the police are empowered and directed to prevent in and near the metropolis, is allowed to be committed (even in their presence), which almost every street in the metropolis will prove. I allude to the making of slides by boys upon the road and pavement. I saw a striking effect of this practice myself a few evenings since. A person, in walking over a slide, fell down, and a gentleman passing myself having assisted him up and taken him to a surgeon, we found that he had received a violent contusion, and had his head and one eye cut in a most frightful way.
I take the liberty, as a friend to man and beast, of requesting your kind insertion of this letter, hoping that it may draw attention to and cause the prevention of this dangerous practice. I am, &c.,
P.S. You will find, that under the 17th clause of the 54th section of the 47th cap. of 2 and 3 Victoria, "that every person who shall make or use any slide upon ice or snow in any street or other thoroughfare shall be liable to a penalty of 40s." If this was enforced in a few instances, it would be a very useful warning to offenders.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Thanks for the link - it's a great idea. I see that it will be published in 'book' form in France though!