Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A-Z: L is for The Wild Boys of London

The A-Z Challenge continues on with the letter L and the penny dreadful of choice is the Wild Boys of London!  Published as children's literature by Newsagents Publishing Company, The Wild Boys of London; or, the Children of the Night had quite a history.


"The Wild Boys of London; or, the Children of the Night"

The Wild Boys of London, was a controversial serial about a gang of young criminals, which according to the British Library featured salacious and inappropriate tales and illustrations for its boy readership.  But don't my word for it.  Here is a sample of one of the versions featuring a topless female being whipped. The Wild Boys of London's author was unknown, but there were several created linked to it such as Edwin J. Brett the founder of Newsagents Publishing Company.  The British Library mentioned The Wild Boys of London was "first published as a serial" and then later a novel like many penny dreadfuls during this time.  This one, however, once released as a novel, "became one of the most notorious books of the age."  The public grew outraged over the disturbing writing and the later British law intervened, prosecuting those who tried to sell it under the Obscene Publication Act

Where can I get a copy of The Wild Boys of London; or, the Children of the Night?

Unfortunately, I was unable to find an ebook or printed version of the penny dreadful.  It could be because of all the litigation The Wild Boys of London received.  Who knows?  Some of the printed material and images are available online via the British Library and if you click on the images you can read a page or two of the original versions.

Mina Burrows


A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Hah :D Boys will be boys amirite?... (Nope). I wonder what was so scandalous about it, other than the topless female (which is an average Sunday matinee on HBO now...)

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

S. L. Hennessy said...

One of the most notorious books of the age...hmmm, sounds like a fascinating read. I need to get a copy!

Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!
S. L. Hennessy

cleemckenzie said...

That does look something pretty wild for any period. Bet it had its readership in the 1800's!

Dani said...

Ooo, how scandalous!!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I imagine that did disturb people back in the day. I bet it's tame by today's standards.

Sophie Duncan said...

A real controversy in this one.
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
Wittegen Press

djinnia said...

Considering they they had bordellos and opium dens as open secrets, i think that it was a little hypocritical of them. I guess the hoopla was caused because it was in the open and not a dirty open secret.

David P. King said...

Well now, this controversy only makes me want to read it now! :)

Nick Wilford said...

Still banned after all this time? Come on now, this is literature history!

Kern Windwraith said...

It's a bit startling that this was published as children's literature. Fascinating. Must have given a few parents a bit of a start! :)