Penny bloods did not appear overnight. They came about when a variety of romantic formulas were mixed together by enterprising men in what might be called the absolute realism of early nineteenth-century history. A messy bricolage of inflated Newgate storytelling, ‘low-life’ and highwayman adventure narratives, gothic fiction, and any other affective discourse that indulges in depictions of frustrated love, madness, violent villainy, and so forth were merged together just as an urban working class was hardening into a semi-self-conscious class; though it can be
Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, anti-militarism and the pportunities of the First World War
‘No man and no penny’:
Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis,
anti-militarism and the opportunities
of the First World War1
What perfidiousness of that German Kaiser, who himself has guaranteed Belgium’s neutrality and now violates it without any reason.
And how extraordinarily shameless is that Chancellor. It is almost
unbelievable, for he dares to say: I know it is against international
law, but I do not care a fig; I am going to invade Belgium anyway.
And what will be the end of it all? Since wishful thinking works, I
think and hope that Germany will
The book explores the relationship between early Victorian popular fiction and radical politics – the way Newgate calendars and novels, penny bloods and crime or ‘low’ literature could intermittently express radical or even Chartist arguments about the need for working-class agency and empowerment. Offering new readings of Jack Sheppard, Sweeney Todd, The Mysteries of London and many other novels and short stories from the 1830s and 1840s, primarily emerging out of London, the book compares the popular to the radical canon, and specifically to a great deal of contemporaneous Chartist fiction. It finds that popular writers and editors attempted to attract a politicised working-class audience by including material that was not only a clear cultural confrontation, a challenge to polite society and middle-class taste, but also a political confrontation that asserted the value of working-class decision making. Understanding Chartism, Victorian Britain’s first nationwide attempt to bring in democracy and challenge the established political order, as a complex, shifting, and internally inconsistent movement, The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction offers a new way to look at the way popular fiction reused or repurposed Chartist and radical narratives. Radicalism and popular culture were in fact both engaged in intricate attempts to capitalise on a constituency of audiences understood to have multiple and expansive aesthetic and political tastes. The book makes clear why and how a popular press would invest in the political and social issues that were finding expression in a popular political movement.
This article considers the exploration of Gothic genericity within two of Mary Elizabeth Braddon‘s neglected penny blood fictions. It observes the way in which genericity comes to be associated with the Gothic as the supposedly disruptive influence of popular literatures is countered by Victorian reviewers. These emphasise such texts’ genericity in order to contain their influence and separate them from superior readerships and literature which is held to transcend generic limitations. Braddon‘s bloods explore this implicit association between the Gothic and genericity and suggest that the latter – identified in terms of the Gothic‘s status as an ephemeral commodity in the penny blood genre – actually enhances rather than limits, the Gothic‘s agency.
British and French ‘heroic imperialists’ as sites of memory
This chapter begins with an attempt to historicise the development of these 'heroic reputations', exploring the influence of the mass-media, and the socio-cultural and political circumstances in nineteenth century Britain and France. The concept of 'hero-maker' refers to a variety of cultural, economic or political intermediaries, often in a position of power within their own field, who contributed to the development of a heroic reputation. The chapter considers long-term memorialisation processes which turned what could have been fleeting celebrity episodes into persistent commemorations. It also considers the place of imperial heroism in the colonies before independence, and the post-colonial management of the symbolic and material legacy of these heroic reputations in newly independent countries. Pierre Nora's concept of site of memory offers a useful way of encompassing the various means through which imperial heroes became vectors of symbols and meaning in the collective memory of the two countries.
). Staged and fabricated content was also common during the
American-Spanish war, and it continued through the ‘penny press’ era in the US,
where duelling editors sought to grow their readership with fantastical and scandalous accounts
of events ( Tucher, 1994 ).
Although it is not new, two factors are making the challenges of disinformation far more acute
today. The first is technology. The internet has led to an explosion of all information sources
– both truthful and false – and the sheer quantity of sources makes it