The Newgate Novel

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  • Topic: Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Newgate novel
  • Pages : 3 (928 words )
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  • Published : April 14, 2013
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Newgate novel
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The Newgate novels (or Old Bailey novels) were novels published in England from the late 1820s until the 1840s that were thought to glamorise the lives of the criminals they portrayed. Most drew their inspiration from the Newgate Calendar, a biography of famous criminals published at various times during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but usually rearranged or embellished the original tale for melodramatic effect. The novels caused great controversy and notably drew criticism from William Makepeace Thackeray, who satirised them in several of his novels and attacked the authors openly. Contents [hide]  * 1 Works * 2 Decline * 3 Notes * 4 References * 5 Further reading| [edit] Works

Among the earliest Newgate novels were Thomas Gaspey's Richmond (1827) and History of George Godfrey (1828), Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford (1830) and Eugene Aram (1832), and William Harrison Ainsworth's Rookwood (1834), which featured Dick Turpin. Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1837) is often also considered to be a Newgate novel. The genre reached its peak with Ainsworth's Jack Sheppard published in 1839, a novel based on the life and exploits of Jack Sheppard, a thief and renowned escape artist who was hanged in 1724. Thackeray, a great opponent of the Newgate novel, reported that vendors sold "Jack Sheppard bags", filled with burglary tools, in the lobbies of the theatres where dramatisation of Ainsworth's story were playing and "one or two young gentlemen have already confessed how much they were indebted to Jack Sheppard who gave them ideas of pocket-picking and thieving [which] they never would have had but for the play." Thackeray's Catherine (1839) was intended as satire of the Newgate novel, based on the life and execution of Catherine Hayes, one of the more gruesome cases in the Newgate Calendar: she conspired to murder her husband and he was dismembered; she was...
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