Book of the Week
BBC Radio 4

For over 800 years London's Newgate prison was the grimy axle around which British society slowly twisted. This is where such legendary outlaws as Robin Hood and Captain Kidd met their fates, where the rapier-wielding playwrights Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe sharpened their quills, and where flamboyant highwaymen like Claude Duval and James Maclaine made legions of women swoon. While London's theatres came and went, the gaol endured as London's unofficial stage. From the Peasants Revolt to the Great Fire, it was at Newgate that England's greatest dramas unfolded.

Reviews:

 

"Gripping … Grovier's treatment of the material organisation of the place is excellent … Newgate's role in the evolution of London, in the creation of crime in the public imagination, in the development of the concept of the prison, is unmatched, and Grovier relates it compellingly”

The Daily Telegraph

 

"Lively history … [Grovier] has a sharp eye for the vivid anecdote and skilfully situates his colourful, tragic and often grim and ghastly characters in the economic, political and social landscape from the Middles Ages to the end of Victoria's reign”

BBC History Magazine

 

"A thrilling history of a very English goal ... this book is so good, you'll want to keep your copy under lock and key.”

Birmingham Sunday Mercury

 

"The author has a keen eye for the grisly detail ... In many ways The Gaol is an upmarket extension of The Newgate Calender, the blood-and-guts, five-volume blockbuster full of all the gory details, that was on every 18th Century bookshelf”

The Mail on Sunday

 

"In a clear readable style that takes the reader at a pleasantly trotting pace through the centuries of oppression and inhumanity”

Evening Standard

 

"a more intimate story than historians have managed … vividly evoked”

Sunday Telegraph

 

"Grovier's study is a sparkling tribute to a grim cultural phenomenon”

Daily Express

 

"Kelly Grovier's brisk and well-organised book … gives a hauntingly clear picture of the place, its inmates, the staff and, of particular delight to the reviewer, the slang they used”

The Daily Telegraph: 'Pick of the Paperbacks'

 

"A terrific read”

Scotsman