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This month’s best historical books

Mansions of Misery: A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison

Bodley Head, £20, 384 pages, hardback

It may focus on themes of poverty and debt – it even has ‘misery’ in the title! – but this is a vibrant look at a community of colourful characters who, thanks to incurring the ire of their creditors, were thrown into one of London’s most infamous prisons. And what a prison; throughout the 18th and into the 19th century, Marshalsea was home to men and women – both innocent and guilty – from right across society. Fighters, musicians, celebrities, prostitutes: all were here. Of course, some of their stories are bleak, yet this remains a multi-faceted, compassionate look at an extraordinary microcosm of human life.

“Marshalsea was home to men and women – both innocent and guilty – from across society”


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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

The January 2017 issue of History Revealed.