Author Archives

Stephen Basdeo

Stephen Basdeo completed his PhD in history in 2017. He is now a lecturer at the Richmond University's Leeds campus.

Eighteenth-Century Books

Every book which survives from the eighteenth century is a unique object, and likely there is not another one like it in the whole world.

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Robin Hood Staffordshire Figurine

During the nineteenth century, various authors such as John Keats, Sir Walter Scott, and Thomas Love Peacock transformed Robin Hood into a morally safe figure; a respectable outlaw hero with whom the Victorian middle classes could identify. It was not purely in literary texts that Robin Hood’s respectable status was exhibited, however, but also in material culture.

Kew Gardens’ Imperial Connections

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew were founded by Princess Augusta (1713-1772) in the 1760s. In 1838 a Royal Commission was set up to inquire into the future of the gardens. The Commission concluded that, after years of official neglect, ‘the gardens should either be put on a professional footing or be closed’.

Moral Panic and William Harrison Ainsworth’s “Jack Sheppard” (1839)

Many people will remember the furor over so-called “video nasties” in the early 1990s, when certain horror movies had been blamed for some particularly heinous juvenile crimes. Newspapers such as the The Sun carried headlines such as “burn your video nasties.” This was a knee-jerk reaction that is known as a “moral panic.” However, it was not the first time that the newspapers had blamed a form of entertainment for particularly heinous crimes.

Penny Dreadful PDFs: The New Newgate Calendar (1863)

Here are the scans I’ve recently completed of the penny dreadfuls in my collection so far.

They were originally on my academia.edu page but I’m moving them here as I find that website a bit slow and “fiddly” at times. My hope is that other researchers will be able to use these resources (and maybe save themselves an archive trip!), and permission is given freely (though an acknowledgement might be nice!). This post will therefore be updated as and when I have the time to upload them. Enjoy!

The New Newgate Calendar

In the penny dreadful version of The New Newgate Calendar, scenes of the most sensational and sexual type were included for publication – torture scenes, nudity, and flagellation – and sparked a moral panic amongst middle-class press commentators.