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Posts Tagged ‘*Frederick Muller*’

Peter Haining – The Legend And Bizarre Crimes Of Spring Heeled Jack

Posted by demonik on June 21, 2009

Peter Haining – The Legend And Bizarre Crimes Of Spring Heeled Jack (Muller, 1977)

springheeljack

Blurb

“Out of the darkness sprang a huge, cloaked figure. In an instant the man had thrown aside his cloak, revealing a hideous and frightful appearance. Blue and white flames shot from his mouth, and his eyes appeared like balls of fire. The young girl who witnessed all this was so terrified that she fainted right away.”
This is just one of dozens of contemporary reports of the bizarre criminal who for over sixty years held the British population in a grip of fear. A man known only as “SPRING HEELED JACK”.

During the period of his reign of terror, this frightening, agile figure who attacked unwary travellers and pounced on terrified girls and women – and may have been responsible for several murders – attracted as many headlines and alarmed the authorities as much as his later mysterious compatriot in crime, Jack the Ripper.

From the late 1830’s he confounded the police, outwitted all attempts by the Army to catch him, and even boldly confronted law officers -slapping them across the face with his `ice cold hands’ before disappearing into the darkness with his eerie laugh ringing behind him….
Today, though, while Jack the Ripper is the subject of book after book, “SPRING HEELED JACK” has become just a name associated with anyone who jumps well. His real story is unknown. This is the first book to examine the legend in detail and throw new light on who the man behind the mask might have been.

Peter Haining’s fascinating study not only examines the reports of his activities – and suggests that more than one person adopted the disguise, including a famous nobleman -but discusses his fame as a star bf Victorian melodrama, and considers some of the strange theories that have been advanced about him -including one that he was really a spaceman!

The book is fully illustrated with remarkable engravings and photographs and includes a special section from one of the famous “Penny Dreadful” serials which featured the legend of the extraordinary “SPRING HEELED JACK”.

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Posted in *Frederick Muller*, non-fiction, Peter Haining | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Peter Haining – The Mystery & Horrible Murders Of Sweeney Todd

Posted by demonik on June 21, 2009

Peter Haining – The Mystery & Horrible Murders Of Sweeney Todd (Frederick Muller 1979)

hainingsweeney1

Blurb

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is a figure famous around the world. A sinister hairdresser who is said to have disposed of his unsuspecting customers through a revolving chair, and having robbed and murdered them, handed over their corpses to his partner in crime to make into meat pies, he has few peers in the annals of crime – or British history for that matter.

Yet this extraordinary character whose name has been familiar to young and old alike since the middle of the Nineteenth Century, is shrouded in mystery:

Was he a real person who actually murdered a hundred and more victims – or just a figment of a writer’s brilliant imagination?

Why is it that although plays featuring his dark deeds have become among the most popular and enduring of any in the history of the theatre, the novel which gave him literary life has been unheard of for a century and a quarter?

And, perhaps most surprisingly of all in view of this notoriety, why has no full length study of the Demon Barber been attempted before now?

These were just some of the questions that had fascinated Peter Haining since his years as a journalist in Fleet Street, and which he finally set out to try and answer in this remarkable book. And not only has he succeeded in coming up with some surprising evidence about Sweeney Todd, but has studied the illusive book which made him famous, and made extensive use of this work. He also looks at the background to the legend, its subsequent enormous success in the entertainment media, and continued growth to the present day. Indeed he discusses all the elements that have gone towards making this such an intriguing story – and even gives space to a variety of theories about the Demon Barber -including one idea that he might actually have been a woman!

At long last, this book throws a revealing light or a figure as famous in London lore as Dick Whittington and Jack the Ripper

The throat-slasher of St. Dunstans seems to have held a lasting fascination for Haining, who also published the long forgotten Frederick Hazleton penny dreadful, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, with a fine introduction by himself for W. H. Allen in 1980. His Sweeney Todd: The Real Story Of The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Robson, 1998), is a reworking of the earlier books and sets out to “prove” that, not only was there some substance to the macabre story, but that Todd actually existed. It bears a dedication “To W.O.G. Lofts who helped to spring man of the traps”

Posted in *Frederick Muller*, non-fiction, Peter Haining | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »