The Victorian Underworld by Kellow Chesney

The Victorian Underworld

Beneath the respectable surface of Victorian society lay a criminal world as diverse, as turbulent, and at times as vicious as any that has existed. Policemen could only stand in awe of the occupations and illegal practices which grew up.Kellow Chesney begins his book by taking a general look at the society and its penal methods. Then, ranging over the whole spectrum of underworld life from travelling showmen and religious fakes to cracksmen, gar...

Details The Victorian Underworld

TitleThe Victorian Underworld
Release DateOct 9th, 1976
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Historical, Victorian, Mystery, Crime, European Literature, British Literature, Reference, Research

Reviews The Victorian Underworld

  • Alison
    I came to this looking for a London "Low Life," and it kind of is. However, Kellow Chesney is not Luc Sante. Or to put another way, if Luc Sante is your cool, history obsessed neighbor who will gladly pour your a whiskey and tell you about how many gang murders happened in your tenement corridor in 1890, Kellow Chesney would probably get the vapors if he passed a woman in provocative clothing coming out of an H&M yesterday. And that's part of the...
  • Lauren Albert
    An engaging, sympathetic and clear-eyed view of the Victorian underworld. Chesney is sympathetic where it is called for but still sees evil for evil (baby farmers are one example). He shows how society and what is seen as its underbelly are more connected than can be seen in a superficial look.Two notes: it would have been good if the descriptions of Gustave Dore's drawings had been with the pictures rather than at the end. And there is a good ca...
  • Chris
    Very interesting book, belonging on the same shelf as Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier or Down and Out in Paris and London. Basically like time-traveling back to the 1840s or 1850s for a tour of the seediest, grimiest, most dangerous urban and rural English environments, and spending time getting to know the local criminals, charlatans, and ne'er-do wells about the particulars of their lives.Looking at the Table of Contents, we see chapters devote...
  • Andrew
    A fascinating book but one so full of information it's took me and age to read a reference book it is great but I think it shows it's age(originally published in the seventies) by maybe being overtly scholarly and I think it would have benefited from maybe focusing more on individual cases of Victorian criminality offering maybe a more human perspective than focusing on the larger sociological and statistical impact of crime.All said however...
  • Adam Glantz
    True to its billing, this is a snapshot of the Victorian-era English underworld, populated by "the dangerous classes" of costermongers, navvies, ruffians, beggars, prostitutes, confidence men, forgers, and the like. If you're seeking a self-indulgent thrill in reading about miserable slum dwellers lying around in verminous filth, you've come to the right place. (Perhaps nothing matches the description of a community that had a dunghill higher tha...
  • Eric Oppen
    It was a fun read, not as complete as the other book of the same title, but well worth it as a look at the side of the Victorian world we don't normally think about. Michael Crichton apparently mined it pretty heavily for his The Great Train Robbery.Persons of delicate sensibilities, be warned: a lot of what went on in Victorian slums was not nice and not very PC. A very popular sport was one where rats were set loose and then a dog was set on th...
  • Dfordoom
    For those who think crime is a modern problem and that modern society is more violent and more crime-ridden than earlier societies this book will come as a revelation. It’s not only the scale of crime in Victorian times that is shocking, the extent of the suffering and the horror of life in that period for such a large proportion of the population is almost beyond belief. The most fascinating thing about the book is the depiction of the various...
  • Jur
    een lekkere tweedehands Penguinpaperback uit 1970, jawel, met een blauwe rug! Prachtig hoofdstuk over de connecties tussen de onderwereld en de sport in het midden van de 19e eeuw. Illegale bokswedstrijden met 10.000 bezoekers en intimidatie van de scheidsrechters, vergeven paardenracewedstrijden, hanengevechten.
  • G Lott
    England in the late 19th century is brought to light in this very interesting and revealing book The book shows the origines of many phrases and words used today. More importantly it discusses the dirty work done in order to survive.
  • Joseph
    Unusual homophobia appears from nowhere from the author in the 'Prostitution' chapter, hilarious scribbling in pencil from a disgusted student reacting to Chesney's views was very entertaining. Despite being very helpful and illuminating, that end left me with an uneasy feeling about it.
  • Hannah Goff
    Was a great help on my paper and a really interesting read. I may have to read it again when I am not struggling under a deadline. But definitely one of the more interesting books I have read for a paper.
  • Alaric
  • John
    A interesting book if one is likes the way people lived and survived in poverty during the victorian era