The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction

By Rob Breton

The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5638-9
  • Pages: 248
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: June 2021
  • BIC Category: LITERARY CRITICISM / Books & Reading, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900, Literature, Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century
  • Series: Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century


Penny politics offers a new way to read early Victorian popular fiction such as Jack Sheppard, Sweeney Todd, and The Mysteries of London. It locates forms of radical discourse in the popular literature that emerged simultaneously with Brittan's longest and most significant people's movement. It listens for echoes of Chartist fiction in popular fiction. The book rethinks the relationship between the popular and political, understanding that radical politics had popular appeal and that the lines separating a genuine radicalism from commercial success are complicated and never absolute. With archival work into Newgate calendars and Chartist periodicals, as well as media history and culture, it brings together histories of the popular and political so as to rewrite the radical canon.


'This outstanding book paints a different picture of 1830s and 1840s politics as it captures how literature influences history and not just reflects it.'
Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association


1 The Old, New, Borrowed and Blue Newgate Calendar
2 Jack Sheppard, the Newgate Novel
3 Penny Radicalism? Sweeny Todd and the Bloods
4 Mysteries and Ambiguities: G. W. M. Reynolds and The Mysteries of London
5 Distant Friends of the People: Howitt's Journal and Douglas Jerrold's Shilling Magazine


Rob Breton is Professor of English literature at Nipissing University

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