Dick Turpin: Fact and Fiction

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Why does the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin have such an extraordinary reputation today? How come his criminal career has inspired a profusion of often misleading literature and film? This eighteenth-century villain is often portrayed as a hero – dashing, sinister, romantic, daring, a Robin Hood of his times. The reality, as Jonathan Oates reveals in this perceptive, carefully researched study, was radically different. He was a robber, torturer and killer, a gangster whose posthumous reputation has eclipsed the truth about his life.

In the early 1700s Turpin progressed from butcher’s apprentice and poacher to become a member of the Gregory gang which terrorized householders around London by robbery and violence. Then came his two-year career as a highwayman robbing travellers, his partnership with Matthew King whom he may have killed in Whitechapel, his murder Thomas Morris in Epping Forest, and his eventual capture and execution.

Jonathan Oates recounts the episodes in Turpin’s short, brutal life in dramatic detail, basing his narrative on contemporary sources – trial records and newspapers in particular – and he traces the development of the Turpin legend over 250 years through novels, ballads, plays, television and film.

The Dick Turpin who emerges from this rigorous and scholarly biography is in many ways a more interesting man than the legend suggests.

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Manufacturer/Publisher: Pen & Sword
Binding: Hardback
Author: Jonathan Oates
Date Published: 2023
Pagination: 272p

SKU: 9781399070614