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Anon – Sweeney Todd or, The String Of Pearls

Posted by demonik on June 18, 2008

Anonymous – Sweeney Todd or, The String Of Pearls (Wordsworth Editions, 2007)


Cover Design by Robert Mathias, Publishing Workshop.
Cover Illustration, David with the Head of Goliath, a detail of the head, 1606 (oil on canvas) by Michelangelo Merisa da Caravaggio (1571-1610) Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy
Bridgeman Art Library, London

With an introduction and Bibliography by Dick Collins:


A distraught Johanna Oakley wanders the streets of London seeking news of her missing fiance, Mark Ingestrie. She is befriended by Colonel Jeffrey, who is searching for his lost friend Thornhill, last seen in Sweeney Todd’s Fleet Street barber-shop. Todd’s apprentice, Tobias Ragg, is struggling to break free from his terrifying and sadistic master, while the barber himself is frantically trying to sell a string of pearls. Meanwhile, just around the corner in Bell Yard, the enigmatic Jarvis Williams has landed himself a fine job — making the most delicious pies in London, to Mrs Lovett’s secret recipe…

The String of Pearls – the original tale of Sweeney Todd, a classic of British horror – was first published as a weekly serial in 1846-47 by Edward Lloyd, the King of the Penny Dreadfuls. One of the earliest detective stories, it became an important source for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. After 157 years of obscurity, it appears here for the first time in book form.

The String Of Pearls is usually credited to Thomas Peckett Prest, but Dick Collins is having none of it! His introductory essay is as welcome as the book itself and he makes a good argument for three – possibly four – authors taking turns at contributing chapters. According to Mr. Collins, the fact that almost everyone has credited the story to Prest is all the fault of “that worst of critics” Montague Summers who certainly has plenty of previous. I mean, far be it from me to accuse anyone of sloppy research but you’re advised to double-check any of “Dear Old Monty’s” “facts” because he’s about as reliable as your average Wikpedia entry.

Rare books reissued at budget prices – in paperback! If any publishers deserve our support it is Wordsworth.

2 Responses to “Anon – Sweeney Todd or, The String Of Pearls”

  1. Thanks for the kind words. As a small publisher (just three of us work here) we really appreciate it when our efforts are noticed. We welcome suggestions for new titles, the only requirement is that the books have to be out of copyright (70 years from the author’s death), as we would struggle to make them available for £2.99 if we have to pay royalties. Just in passing, we’ll be doing a second edition of The String of Pearls in the next few months, which will feature a completely new introduction from Dick Collins, in which he covers his latest research, and reveals who he is now sure is the true author of the original story.

  2. demonik said

    Delighted to hear from you Derek and congratulations on the excellent job yourself and colleagues are doing. I hope it will please you to learn that we have an active thread or three devoted to the Mystery & The Supernatural series on our forum. I have taken the liberty of quoting your comment and it is to be hoped that our readers will come up with some idea’s for reprints that fit your criteria.

    In the meantime, I wish you every success.

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