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Mansions of misery : a biography of the Marshalsea debtors' prison / Jerry White.

By: White, Jerry, 1949- [author.].
Material type: TextTextPublisher: London Bodley Head, 2016Copyright date: ©2016Description: xvii, 364 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.Content type: text | still image | cartographic image Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781847923028 (hardback); 184792302X (hardback).Other title: Biography of the Marshalsea debtors' prison.Subject(s): Marshalsea Prison (Southwark, London, England) | Prisons -- England -- London -- History -- 18th century | London (England) -- History -- 18th century | London (England) -- Social conditions -- 18th century | London (England) -- Social life and customs -- 18th centuryDDC classification: 365.9421 Summary: The Marshalsea became a byword for misery; in the words of one of its inmates, it was hell in epitome. But the prison was also a microcosm of London life and it housed a colourful range of characters, including Charles Dickens's father. This book introduces us to the Marshalsea's unfortunate prisoners, rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. We get to know the trumpeter John Grano who wined and dined with the prison governor and continued to compose music whilst other prisoners were tortured and starved to death. We meet the bare-knuckle fighter known as the Bold Smuggler, who fell on hard times after being beaten by the Chelsea Snob. And then there's Joshua Reeve Lowe, who saved Queen Victoria from assassination in Hyde Park in 1820, but whose heroism couldn't save him from the Marshalsea. Told through these extraordinary lives, This book gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

For ordinary Londoners debt was part of everyday life. The poor depended on credit from shopkeepers and landlords to survive, but the better-off too were often deep in debt to finance their more comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle. When creditors lost their patience both rich and poor Londoners could be thrown into one the capital's debtors' prisons where they might linger for years. The most notorious of them was the Marshalsea.<br> <br> In the eighteenth century, the Marshalsea became a byword for misery; in the words of one of its inmates, it was 'hell in epitome'. In 1729 a parliamentary committee of enquiry found that prisoners had been deliberately starved to extort fees from them and that many had died of deprivation and brutality at the hands of the gaolers. In 1768 a mutiny led to an attempt to burn down the gaol.<br> <br> But the prison was also a microcosm of London life, and where as its poor estinmates lived in fear of starvation, the more wealthy and better connected living in the prison's 'masters' wing' carried on as they would in the outside world, employing servants and entertaining guests -- a lifestyle that was often funded again by debt. In 1824 Charles Dickens's father was detained here and the experience deeply scarred the writer who lived in fear of debt -- and a similar fate -- for the rest of his life. And although the Marshalsea was demolished in the 1840s Dickens would immortalise it in his novels, most memorably in Little Dorrit.<br> <br> In Mansions of Misery Jerry White, acclaimed chronicler of London life, tells the story of the Marshalsea through the life stories of those who had the bad fortune to be imprisoned there -- rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. In the process he gives us a fascinating and unforgettable slice of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

The Marshalsea became a byword for misery; in the words of one of its inmates, it was hell in epitome. But the prison was also a microcosm of London life and it housed a colourful range of characters, including Charles Dickens's father. This book introduces us to the Marshalsea's unfortunate prisoners, rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. We get to know the trumpeter John Grano who wined and dined with the prison governor and continued to compose music whilst other prisoners were tortured and starved to death. We meet the bare-knuckle fighter known as the Bold Smuggler, who fell on hard times after being beaten by the Chelsea Snob. And then there's Joshua Reeve Lowe, who saved Queen Victoria from assassination in Hyde Park in 1820, but whose heroism couldn't save him from the Marshalsea. Told through these extraordinary lives, This book gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.

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