Comprised of the tales of both famous and lesser-known criminals from the 18th and 19th centuries and named after Newgate Prison in London, the Newgate Calendar became one of the most popular books of its day, said to be as much a part of the British household as the Bible. Born out of broadsides - so called single-sided sheets with ballads, biographies or last-minute confessions sold at public executions and fairs - the Newgate Calendar tells the fates of murderers, fraudsters, robbers, and traitors and how they fell from virtue to vice. While collections of these stories appear during the mid-18th century, the first one titled Newgate Calendar was published in 1773. There are many versions of the Newgate Calendar existing under slightly different names, and in 1824, a new edition was published by two lawyers, Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, who later published another version called The New Newgate Calendar in 1826. The book was considered educational, teaching children what would become of those who broke the law, but the public's' fascination with the rogues of the day led to so called Newgate Novels, published between the late 1820s to the 1840s with melodramatic or glorified tales of the criminals featured in them.
May 13, 2015