I rarely read the saturday review section of The Times. Today for a first for many reasons including an excellent book review of a book due out March 27th by Antonia Hodgson ” The Devil in the Marshalsea”. Amazon was visited and by 9.29 am the book had been ordered. What fascinated me was the topic of the book which is a story around a debtors prison in London in 1727. London then was ( and still is) a cruel place with institutions such as Newgate Jail and Bedlam operating at full capacity to lock those up whom we might treat today with some tolerance or pity even. These places were real then. The cruelty, the fraud, the back room conspiracies and the backhanders. Much of this sounds like what we might read in our papers in the news sections today. Not a lot has changed really.
There are a whole series of books based on “faction” that cover the history of the middle ages and later, C J Sansome is an example writing about Matthew Shardlake. Clearly there is an admixture of fact, learning,speculation and fiction, but broadly these books bring to live how life must have been for those in trouble in the 18th century and before.
Lets wait for March 27th and see if my impulsive purchase was a good option or not. I expect it is