‘This ain’t the shop for justice’: Crime in Dickens’s London (lecture)
Description : Free public lecture by Dr Tony Williams. From Gresham College. Available as video, audio, and transcript.
Overview: From his childhood acquaintance with London, when he feared he might become ‘a little robber or a little vagabond’, Charles Dickens was fascinated by crime. His novels all include criminal activity of some kind as he investigates criminal psychology and the causes of crime. Dickens lived through a period of considerable development in society’s treatment of criminals: the foundation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829, the Detective Force in 1842, the same year as the New Model Prison opened at Pentonville; the ending of transportation and of public executions; the word ‘penology’ was first used in 1838, the year he began to publish Nicholas Nickleby. Dickens engages with these issues very fully, both in his fiction and in his journalism, as this talk will explore.