Tag Archives: 19th Century

The ‘Real’ Peaky Blinders of Small Heath, Birmingham

By Megan Murphy, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I’m a third year History student at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador, and a self-proclaimed Jane Austen fanatic. As a modern historian, my main research interests revolve around the development of Victorian cities – particularly the crime and deviance that took place within them. Outside of my studies, in the rare time I spend without my head in a nineteenth-century newspaper, I specialise in binge-watching Louis Theroux documentaries.

The hit BBC drama series Peaky Blinders – which is set in Birmingham and follows the lives of the Shelby brothers and their criminal gang the ‘Peaky Blinders’ – has captivated the minds and imagination (and – thanks to lead star Cillian Murphy – the hearts) of the British public. Given the recent fascination with Birmingham’s criminal underworld that the series has generated, I thought it would be interesting to use Gale Primary Sources to investigate the ‘real’ Peaky Blinders of late nineteenth-century Birmingham.

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James Greenwood – Social Reformer or Opportunist?

by Rory Herbert
I am a third year History student and President of the History Society at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy trying to grapple with the vastness and complexity of this subject, and the challenges it can present. On the rare occasions that I have free time, I can be found playing hockey or researching historical facts and events.

James Greenwood was an author of relative obscurity who came to fame abruptly following the publication of his serial A Night in the Workhouse in the 1860s by the Pall Mall Gazette. He soon found himself rising through the ranks of the Victorian social ladder and became one of the leading social commentators of his age. This revolutionary piece saw Greenwood experience the conditions of a workhouse firsthand in one of the first examples of investigative journalism. Yet, while his work was quickly adopted by social reformers and critics alike, it seems the author himself was somewhat less interested in the people he claimed to support and, instead, focused on appealing to a wider audience.

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