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Posts Tagged ‘Sweeney Todd’

Wordsworth Editions: Best publisher of the 00’s?

Posted by demonik on December 21, 2009

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As far as i know they’ve never even been shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award but Wordsworth editions have my nomination for publishers of the decade. The good news is, the good work will continue just as soon as 2010 is upon us with a reprint of James Malcolm Rymer’s Varney The Vampyre in January followed by the James Doig edited anthology, Australian Ghost Stories, the following month.

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Blurb
Murderous ghosts, horrific curses and monstrous beings haunt an unforgiving landscape into which travelers stray at their peril. Journey through the dark byways of Australia’s Gothic past in the rare stories gathered in this memorable new collection. Work by acclaimed Australian writers such as Marcus Clarke, Henry Lawson and Edward Dyson appears alongside many lesser-known authors such as Beatrice Grimshaw, Mary Fortune and Ernest Favenc. Many of the stories collected here have never been reprinted since their first publication in 19th and early 20th century periodicals and showcase the richness and variety of the Australian ghost and horror story.

James Doig provides an authoritative introduction full of fresh insights into Australian Gothic fiction with detailed biographical notes on the authors represented.

my pick of those i’ve read to date would include:

M. G. Lewis – The Monk
Mark Valentine (ed) – The Werewolf Pack
David S. Davies (ed.) – The Sexton Blake Casebook
Marjorie Bowen – The Bishop Of Hell
Anonymous – Sweeney Todd
E. Nesbit – Powers Of Darkness
George W. M. Reynolds – Wagner, The Werewolf
William Fryer Harvey – The Beast With Five Fingers
David Blair (ed.) – Gothic Short Stories
Dennis Wheatley – The Devil Rides Out

Happy Christmas and thanks for such a great selection, Derek and skeleton staff!

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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!”

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

Frederick Hazleton – Sweeney Todd

Posted by demonik on June 21, 2009

Frederick Hazleton – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (W. H. Allen, 1980)

Photo: Graham Miller

Photo: Graham Miller

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, has become legendary throughout the world. The macabre story of his luring unsuspecting customers into his shop, slitting their throats and then having his partner in crime – a pastrycook named Mrs Lovett – turn the corpses into meat pies has been a favourite melodrama for more than a century.
Yet for all Sweeney Todd’s notoriety the mystery as to whether or not he really existed has remained unresolved. Here, Peter Haining does much to prove that Sweeney Todd did exist, and did indeed own a barber’s shop in Fleet Street. He also presents the original nineteenth-century novel by Frederick Hazleton, which will delight not only believers in the Sweeney Todd saga but those avid readers and collectors of the Victorian Penny Dreadful. The contemporary illustrations add to the relish.

Posted in *W.H. Allen*, 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 »

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)

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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:

Blurb:

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.

Posted in *Wordsworth" | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »