Cate Ludlow - The Terrific Register: The Book of Murder (History Press, 2009)
Blurb: As a schoolboy, Charles Dickens took a copy of the Terrific Register every week, and he later recalled how it 'frightened my very wits out of my head, for the small charge of a penny weekly: which considering that there was an illustration to every number, in which there was always a pool of blood, and at least one body, was cheap.'
This selection contains the most gruesome tales from this 185-year-old publication. Including 'the horrible murder of a child by starvation', dreadful executions, foul tortures and one of the earliest mentions of a now notorious killer who turned his victims into pies, it will chill all but the sturdiest of hearts. Many of these tales have not appeared in print since Charles Dickens himself read them. Richly illustrated with original woodcuts, it will fascinate anyone with an interest in true crime.
Lurid accounts of the bloodiest deeds, including torture, cannibalism, dismemberment, murder, sadistic punishment - in short, horrible death in it's ghastliest guises. Back in the day, it seems everyone was at it, and, thankfully, the Terrific Register was around to embellish every foul deed in revolting detail. Features Sawney Beane (The Monster of Scotland), Dupre the Murderer, Horrible Affair in the Rue de la Harpe at Paris, (possibly the basis for the legend of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, though Peter Haining argues it is the other way around), the Murder of the Princess De Lamballe (inexplicably, the Terrific Register settle for one of the less depraved accounts), Horrible Murder of a Child by Starvation, Cruel Treatment of a Sailor Boy, various Horrors of the French Revolution (so many to choose from), Awful Consequences of Illicit Intercourse, & Co.
File under laugh out loud sick and twisted. The Newgate Calendar is about as gory as Crystal Tipps and Alistair #4: Bubble Trouble by comparison.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Tales from The Terrific Register: The Book of London
Tales from The Terrific Register: The Book of Ghosts
Tales from The Terrific Register: The Book of Wonders
Tales from The Terrific Register: The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen
Dickens' Dreadful Almanac: A Terrible Event for Every Day of the Year
A Grim Almanac of Georgian London
I have not read any of these, but have read a couple of other entries in the 'Grim Almanac' series, including Grim Almanac of the Workhouse, a horror a day of fires, murders and so forth in the workhouses of yesteryear.
Cate Ludlow has certainly done all right out of the Terrific Register! It's a nice period piece but these days notable for the woodcuts (don't know how these photos will go - my scanner is out of order at the moment):