Beginning with an atmospheric account of Tyburn, we are set up for a grisly excursion through London as a city of ne’er do wells, taking in beheadings and brutality at the Tower, Elizabethan street crime, cutpurses and con-men, through to the Gordon Riots and Highway robbery of the 18thcentury and the rise of prisons, the police and the Victorian era of incarceration. As well as the crimes, Arnold also looks at the gory and intricate punishments handed out to those who broke the law throughout London’s gruesome horrid history – from the hangings, drawings and quarterings at Tyburn over 500 years to being boiled in oil at Smithfield. This popular historian also investigates the influence of London’s criminal classes on the literature of the 19thand 20thcenturies, and ends up with our old favourites, the Krays and Soho gangs of the 50s and 60s.
London’s crimes have changed over the centuries, both in method and execution. Underworld London traces these developments, from the highway robberies of the eighteenth century, made possible by the constant traffic of wealthy merchants in and out of the city, to the beatings, slashings and poisonings of the Victorian era.