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Record 1552

Reading Experience:

Statement of boy to London society, aim of which to rescue juvenile criminals, demonstrating pernicious influence of penny dreadfuls: "Bill couldn't read a bit, but he knowed boys that could, and he used to hear 'em reading about Knights of the Road, and Claude Duval and Skeleton Crews, till I suppose his head got regler stuffed with it. He never had no money to buy a pen'orth when it came out, so he used to lay wait for me, carrying my younger sister over his shoulder, when I came out of school at dinner time, and gammon me over to come along with him to a shop on the corner of Rosamond street in Clerkenwell, where there used to be a whole lot of the penny numbers in the window. They was all of a row, Wildfire Jack, the Boy Highwayman, Dick Turpin, and ever so many others -just the first page, don't you know, and the picture. Well, I liked it too, and I used to go along o' Bill and read to him all the reading on the front page and look at the pictures until -'specially on Mondays when there was altogether a new lot -Bill would always get so worked up with the aggravatin' little bits, which always left off where you wanted to turn over and see what was on the next leaf..."
Century: 1850-1899
Date: Between 1 Jan 1870 and 31 Dec 1879
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: n/a
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary reactive unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Age Child (0-17)
Gender Male
Date of Birth n/a
Socio-economic group: Labourer (non-agricultural)
Occupation: unknown
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Brother Bill
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: anon
Title: [penny dreadfuls]
Genre: Fiction
Form of Text: Print: Serial / periodical, penny dreadful
Publication details: penny dreadful
Provenance: read in situ
in front of the shop


Source Information:

Record ID: 1552  
Source - Manuscript Other
  Author: James Greenwood, "Penny Awfuls", St Paul's Magazine, 12 (1873), pp. 161-168,

Citation: James Greenwood, "Penny Awfuls", St Paul's Magazine, 12 (1873), pp. 161-168,, accessed: 01 June 2023

Additional comments:

Charley said to be about 13 years of age



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)