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Answer 15. William Makepeace Thackeray couldn’t bear to watch the actual hanging at Newgate.


IMG_5038 Old BaileyThe view from Snow Hill. Newgate was demolished in 1902, but the stones were reused to build the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) on the same site. That’s the original wall there, refaced in Portland stone (see previous picture).

Thackeray wasn’t the only novelist to witness Courvoisier’s execution. Another writer was equally horrified:

‘From the moment of my arrival – down to the time when I saw the body with its dangling head, being carried on a wooden bier into the gaol – I did not see one token in all the immense crowd; at the windows, in the streets, on the house-tops, anywhere; of any one emotion suitable to the occasion. No sorrow, no salutary terror, no abhorrence, no seriousness; nothing but ribaldry, debauchery, levity, drunkenness, and flaunting vice in fifty other shapes.’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 16. Who was this second novelist?

Tennis and the Masai Cover









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