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    Mansions of misery: a biography of the Marshalsea debtors’ prison

    White, Jerry (2016) Mansions of misery: a biography of the Marshalsea debtors’ prison. London, UK: Bodley Head. ISBN 9781448191819. (In Press)

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    Abstract

    Book synopsis: 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 Prison. In the eighteenth century, 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. 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. 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.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Book
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 10:28
    Last Modified: 26 Jul 2016 13:49
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/14901

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