‘The Jago had got him, and it held him fast.’
In the worst of London’s East End slums, in an area called the Jago, young Dicky Perrott is used to a life of poverty, crime, and violence. Gang warfare is the order of the day, deaths are commonplace, and thieving the only way to survive. At first Dicky dreams of becoming a High Mobsman – one of the aristocrats of Jago crime – but the efforts of Father Sturt to improve conditions offer him a different path. Dicky’s journey takes him through a savage but colourful community of pickpockets and cosh-carriers, where the police only enter in threes, and where murder erupts with an unusual horror and intimacy.
Morrison’s portrayal of the Victorian underclass and its underworld drew attention to the bleak prospects for children living in such surroundings, and it is a classic of slum-fiction. In this edition Peter Miles provides a rich contextual background to the creation of the novel, and the social debates to which it contributed.
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