Reading in Progress: The Thieves' Opera by Lucy Moore

The Thieves' Opera - Lucy Moore

Here's a sentence that I can't help but think has a lot of (undocumented) stories behind it.


p 187 (Kindle Locations 2948-2951):

"A great deal of evidence was required to convict someone of murder; infanticide, a common crime among poor young women, could be disproved by the defendant producing in court a little shirt she had sewn, which would show that she had been preparing for the birth of her baby - even if, unbeknownst to the jurors, she had made it the day before she appeared in court."

Of course it was also extremely easy to be convicted of many other crimes, all of which led to a death sentence or transportation (to America or Australia usually).


And because it's somewhat sad to post just that bit, how bout...


p. 132-133 (Kindle Locations 2059-2066, 2069-2076):

Such stories lent highwaymen an allure that captivated the reading public - particularly the female side. Claude Duvall was one of the best-known highwaymen of the late seventeenth century - a heart-throb, as famous for his lovemaking (he was French ) as for his wit, generosity and wild lifestyle. One of the most often told stories about him recounts how he held up a couple and asked the gentleman for permission to dance with his beautiful young wife, which the man could hardly refuse. Duvall helped her out of the coach and danced a minuet with her on the roadside. ‘Scarce a dancing master in London, but would have been proud to have shown such agility in a pair of pumps, as Duvall showed in a great pair of French riding boots.’ His epitaph read,


Here lies Duvall, Reader, if male thou art,

Look to thy purse, if female, to thy heart.

...In 1709 Mrs Crackenthorpe of the Female Tatler mocked the fantasies of middle-class women dreaming mistily of being held up by a masked highwayman who kisses their sweaty palms as he takes their husbands’ money, and gallops off into the distance, his cloak streaming out behind him.


'Mrs Mary Fanciful, having heard a world of stories about highwaymen, has a curiosity to see one. She sets out for the bath, on Monday next, with ten guineas (not hid in the privat’st part of her coach) therefore, if any of these gentlemen please to clap an uncharged pistol to her breast, only that she may know how it is to be robbed, they shall receive the ten guineas with a sincere promise never to be prosecuted for the same. Her sister, Mrs Sarah Fanciful, wants mightily to see a ghost.'

In the ebook the Female Tatler is instead Taller in this quote. (eyeroll)

I had fun discovering a few websites discussing this periodical:


Issuing Her Own: The Female Tatler

University of Michigan 2002, student project. Specifically good for the authorship page - so many periodicals/pamphlets/etc. were written under pseudonyms that this is one of those continual academic problems. And of course a ladies name didn't guarantee a women writer. The links on that page aren't all working - so I'll refer you to Delarivier Manley. Who I now must find a biography on.


Short Excerpt from The Female Tatler

Norton Anthology of English Lit. site


Tatler (1709 Journal)

wikipedia entry for the original that the other Tatlers spun off from