But it is time that I should say a few words about the principles of murder, not with a view to regulate your practice, but your judgment. As to old women, and the mob of newspaper readers, they are pleased with anything, provided it is bloody enough; but the mind of sensibility requires something more.
~Thomas DeQuincey, On Murder, Considered as One of the Fine Arts (1827)
I selected the name for this website based on one of the earliest — if not the earliest — true crime publications in the English language: The Newgate Calendar or The Malefactor’s Bloody Register which was first published in 1760.
A fortress built at one of the key entry points in the wall surrounding old London, Newgate was built during the reign of Henry I, used as a prison from at least 1188, and used for both civil debtors and criminals until 1815. Thereafter, it was used for criminals only. It was finally destroyed in 1902, during the construction of the Central Criminal Courts building commonly known as “Old Bailey.”
The Calendar contained accounts of some of the most notorious criminals in England and was, in addition to being one of the first true crime publications, a best-selling “non-fiction” work. It told the stories in a moralistic tone, which allowed its readers to enjoy the guilty pleasure of lurid crime stories while justifying doing so because of the lessons the tales contained.
Here is an example from the beginning and conclusion of a typical Calendar article.
THE case of these diabolical criminals, as it was proved at the trial, which took place at Shrewsbury on the 2nd of August 1828, before Mr. Justice Gazelee, scarcely finds a parallel in the whole series which we present to our readers. It exhibits the dreadful features, of a mother and father-in-law combining to procure the commission of murder, to save their son from justice; and that son, the object of their solicitude, procuring the conviction of those by whose means he had been before saved from an ignominious end, for the offence to which they had made themselves parties on his behalf, to relieve himself from the due reward of further crime committed by himself.
. . .
The miserable convicts were directly afterwards led to the scaffold, dreadfully agitated, and uttering ejaculations imploring mercy for their sins; and all being in readiness, the drop fell, and they were launched into eternity.
The sentence of the wretched mother of Ellson, and of old Cox, was subsequently changed for that of transportation; and with this bare recitation of its facts, we shall close the scene upon this frightful case
Perhaps most importantly, the Calendar served as the inspiration for some of English Literature’s classic works.
It prompted many copies and competitors, and helped create a market for pulp fiction and newspapers in general, even helping greatly to advance printing techniques by adding woodcut illustrations — one of the first publications to do so.
In honor of the original, I selected the name for this site, but dropped the “bloody” to give my blog at least the semblance of dignity. I did retain the awkward apostrophe, though.
About the Author
From the time that I was 10 years old, I wanted to be a writer, and have been fascinated by crime and criminals all of my life. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, also from MSU.
I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor and as a lobbyist for a newspaper trade association before going to work for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Today I have been given the gift of being able to finally pursue my dream of a freelance writing career in beautiful L.A. (lower Alabama, that is).
Professionally, I have published articles in The Journal of the Ohio Bar Association, the National Law Journal and other legal publications. I have had the privilege of appearing on several television shows about crime, both organized and individual, which resulted in my getting my own IMDB page (How cool is that?).
Many of my crime articles appear on the late, lamented CourtTV’s Crime Library website.
In 2010 I wrote The Professor and the Coed, which is published by the History Press and available online.
I always wondered if monsters were real. This website is proof they are and they are nearer than we can ever know.
I dedicate this site to the victims of crime everywhere, to the people who catch the malefactors, and those who protect the rest of us from them.
This website represents my personal views and writing. I welcome and encourage your comments and suggestions. Email is always welcome. Spam is not. I’ll try to reply to any questions visitors might have. On this site I am a just but selfish god. I leave critical comments, but I don’t review books or allow guest columns.
This is a one-man show and I’m a poor copy editor. Please excuse the occasional misspelling, bad grammar or incoherent sentence. Also, the articles here are always works in progress; on occasion I will make updates and rewrites as I see fit. Corrections are welcome provided they can be verified.
I don’t know nothin’ about nobody. I’m just minding my own business.
Mark C. Gribben