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Peter Haining – Sweeney Todd: The Real Story Of The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Posted by demonik on June 21, 2009

Peter Haining – Sweeney Todd: The Real Story Of The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Robson, 1998)

hainingsweeneyrobson98

Groan. Another personal ‘one that got away’. I use to see this around fairly often, remaindered or discounted or something. Never snapped it up, because I thought it was merely a repackaging of his earlier The Mystery & Horrible Murders Of Sweeney Todd (Muller 1979). Just goes to show how wrong you can be!

Haining certainly revisits the earlier book (and his introduction to the Frederick Hazleton novel), but this time he takes it that step further as, utilizing fact, “fact”, centuries old remembered conversations and “it was rumoured at the time”s, he not only “proves” that Sweeney Todd exists, but also gives us a cradle-to-scaffold biography! How comes nobody else has consulted The Newgate Calendar for references to the meat-pie martyr and, if they did, what’s their excuse for finding zero mention of him contained in it’s grisly pages? Why have i had to wait until now to learn that Sweeney was a local lad, born in Brick Lane?

It’s research, Jim, but not as we know it. Outrageous. But in a totally brilliant way.

This time, rather fittingly, the dedication runs “To the memory of Tod Slaughter. I’m polishing ’em off well tonight!”

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