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Britain's Most Notorious Prisoners (Paperback)

Victorian to Present-Day Cases

True Crime

By Stephen Wade
Imprint: Wharncliffe Books
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781845631291
Published: 15th June 2011


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Prison is an unknown world for most of us. It is a place where time stops and lives are held in suspension, taken out of circulation. Amongst the gaol population are the dangerous inmates: killers and rapists, gang 'hit-men' and serial offenders. They are the most notorious, their reputations sometimes enhanced by glamour, horrendous tales of their misdeeds and by their very incarceration. Britain's Most Notorious Prisoners tells the stories of some of their lives inside the 'Big House' where prison culture becomes a strange, unreal community and where the prison service has had to learn to cope with those who live by their own morality rather than the law of the land. Here are stories about some of the most famous inmates: Ruth Ellis, the Krays, 'prison superstar' Charles Bronson, the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, the canabalistic Dennis Nilsen, the evil child-killer Ian Brady, Beverley Allitt, 'Razor' Smith as well as chilling accounts concerning long forgotten villains. On the way read about Oscar Wilde's time in Reading gaol, about spies and political prisoners and Jeremy Bamber's long campaign to assert his innocence.

I am a massive fan of true crime books and I downloaded this one from Pen & Sword’s website when it was on offer last month and I have to say it was a gripping read and full of facts and information on a wide range of cases!

I loved the length of the chapters, they were just long enough to give a great overview in to the prisoner and the crime/s that had landed them at the pleasure of one of the many prisons in the UK. I found it was a book I could pick up and down and read a couple of chapters at a time.

I had read about the majority of the cases before but there were some new ones to me and I did find the details of the case of Oscar Wilde and his imprisonment to be really interesting, I had known he had been sent to prison and why, but I wasn’t aware of the rest of his story in terms of what had happened once he had been imprisoned – that is one of the first few entries so it really did set me up well for the rest of the book to come.

It is 5 stars from me for this one, these are definitely my kind of reads, I loved the short punchy nature of the chapters and I am really fascinated by human nature and what makes the people that commit these acts too so plenty of food for thought – very highly recommended!

Read the full review here

Donna's Book Blog

Britain’s Most Notorious Prisoners is more than just a collection of fascinating cases. It is a lesson in the history of the British prison system. In how legal procedures have changed and how prisons and conditions have developed through the years...

... In Britain’s Most Notorious Prisoners, you are treated to an insight into individuals time in prison, their behaviours and interactions and how this fits with the notorious prisoner image. Ruth Ellis, the Krays, Charles Bronson, Peter Sutcliffe, Dennis Nilsen, Ian Brady and Beverley Allitt are just some of the prisoners you will find detailed and explored. An insightful and thought-provoking piece of writing, structured to keep you turning pages; this is a book which does not disappoint.

Crime Bookshelf - Fiona Guy

This is more than just a book rehashing notorious criminal cases and what happened to the offenders. As is expected Stephen Wade brings another dimension to his recording of crime and its consequences.

Another extremely well written and though provoking book from a master of criminal writing.

police History Society Newsletter
 Stephen Wade

About Stephen Wade

Stephen Wade is a social historian, specialising in the history of crime and the law in Britain and Ireland. Amongst his many published true crime and crime history books are those he has written for Pen & Sword's Family History series. These include Tracing Your Criminal Ancestors, Tracing Your Legal Ancestors and Tracing Your Police Ancestors. He has also contributed to Family Tree Magazine, Who Do You Think You Are? magazine and other periodicals.

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