Defoe on Sheppard and Wild
Jack Sheppard was an 18th-century Houdini - a handsome young escape artist who broke out of his cell on Newgate's grim Death Row three times. Jonathan Wild was the infamous Thief-Taker General who helped to recapture him and many other criminals, only to be tried and executed himself for racketeering, among scenes of mayhem at Tyburn. Daniel Defoe, the master of adventure fiction, was fascinated by True Confessions and the workings of the criminal personality (including its daring, its stoicism and its humour). He was the first to re-tell these stories, based on personal interviews in Newgate, which also include a (sometimes hour by hour) reconstruction of events.
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