If you think today’s newspapers and websites carry some bizarre stories we have nothing on the Victorians.
Leicester Mercury features editor Jeremy Clay stumbled across some amazing tales while researching in the archives at work and was inspired to write s book: The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton and other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press.
It turns out that the Victorian era was not only a wonderful time for empire-building, railways and facial hair, but it was a corking period for news.
Take one average news-day in 1837, Clay reports…
“A pub landlord who drowned himself in 500 gallons of beer. A punch-up between rival teetotallers at a temperance meeting. A parcel of £400 sent between two Cubrian towns, delivered 35 years late. A chap who, for no readily discernable reason, had embarked on a mission to walk 1,250 miles in 1,000 hours, all along the same small stretch of road.”
Oh, and an 18-year-old girl called Alexandrina became Queen of England after her uncle William died in the night – changing her name to Victoria.
Other highlights from the book include the tale of a bull which actually did rush into a china shop in Ilford and the drunk monkey in New York who struck a bar patron over the head with a whiskey bottle when he refused to by him any more cocktails.
Clay’s book is full of stories that would make a modern-day news editor pass out with sheer excitement if they were on his newslist today. Who needs the internet?
The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton and Other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press is available from Amazon, price £11.99.