Tim Heald

Pub Idol

Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman

By

Profile Books 258pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

IT’S ODD THAT the two most famous ‘Dicks’ in English history should owe so much more to fiction than fact. At least Whittington really was Mayor of London, even if his cat is as mythical as Turpin’s Black Bess. Dick Turpin, hanged by jumping off a ladder in April 1739, was a petty criminal from Essex, and the epic ride from London to York for which he is most famous was actually performed by a highwayman called ‘Swift Nicks’ Dudley at least a quarter of a century before Turpin was even born. Swift Nicks was eventually arrested for attempting to rob the Duke of Lauderdale on Hounslow Heath, tried at the Old Bailey, hanged at Tyburn, and then forgotten.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,