Cruel Deeds and Dreadful Calamities
The Illustrated Police News 1864-1938
Distributed for British Library
“Jack the Ripper Arrested with Victim Alice MacKenzie in Whitechapel.” “Boys Murder Their Mother. Revolting Crime at Plaistow—Shocking Details.” “Horrible Discovery of Human Remains at Rainham.” These are just some of the captions for the true crimes depicted in the Illustrated Police News. Best known for its meticulous coverage of the murders of Jack the Ripper, the weekly newspaper, published from 1864 until 1938, reported murders, hangings, and other dramatic crimes of the time alongside images packed with gruesome detail.
Unapologetic about its sensationalism, the Illustrated Police News has been often dismissed as of little value, merely a crude publication that aimed to thrill the undiscerning reader with prurient pictures. But in Cruel Deeds and Dreadful Calamities, Linda Stratmann sets the record straight, arguing that it was actually a promoter of social change. Stratmann examines its social and political agenda and reveals the power and compassion in its images. She argues that the publication campaigned against the evils of cruelty, poverty, drink, and crime. As well, it anticipated by many years the features of today’s journalism, in the rapidity with which it provided pictures of current news events, its appeal to the emotions, and the way it involved its readers in the reporting process.
A highly illustrated and comprehensive look at the Illustrated Police News, this book offers substantial new research into how the paper was produced, the men who made it a success, and the stories behind the pictures. This look into the dark underbelly of Victorian culture will appeal to both crime and history readers alike.
Chapter One: Murder
Chapter Two: Accidents and Disasters
Chapter Three: Cops and Robbers
Chapter Four: Social Comment
Chapter Five: Women
Chapter Six: Animals
Chapter Seven: Celebrities, Scandals and Public Events
Chapter Eight: Achievement, Courage and Competition
Chapter Nine: Supernatural and Strange
Chapter Ten: Cruel and Unusual