Roguery in Print: Crime and Culture in Early Modern London

Lena Liapi

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In the late sixteenth century, exciting and multifarious pamphlets about rogues were published in big numbers in London. Historians and literary scholars have long debated whether these were realistic representations or entertaining fictions. Additionally, even though there are many studies of crime publications in the eighteenth century, no similar analysis has been done for the seventeenth century. This book offers the first comprehensive analysis of an extensive body of rogue pamphlets published between 1590 and 1670 in London. It combines cutting-edge cultural history of crime with the history of the book and new research on manuscript materials.

Even the most recent work on rogue pamphlets (Mentz and Dionne’s Rogues and Bayman’s Thomas Dekker) has been limited to the examination of a canon of texts published in the late Elizabethan era. Examining these texts through the prism of the history of the book, and focusing the analysis not only on the discourses on crime these texts presented but also on their modes of production, marketing, and sale, this book challenges many of the orthodoxies in the studies of rogue literature. Going beyond the commonly examined texts and the established chronology, this book maps out two interrelated phenomena: the first is that rogue pamphlets were not depictions of a criminal underworld, but part of a wider range of popular literature, which dealt with London and its early modern transformations. The second is that rogue pamphlets were not static representations of criminality, but were shaped by the cultural expectations of the authors, publishers and readers, which changed significantly in this period. This multivalence and multiple appropriations of crime pamphlets have allowed them to be relevant in different historical moments, and makes them an important site of historical examination.

This book will be a timely contribution to the field, complementing recent works on print culture (such as those by Raymond, Peacey, McElligott and Walsham) and the growing field of eighteenth-century crime literature. Drawing from different disciplines, this book shows how rogue pamphlets were a nuanced means for early modern writers and publishers to both reflect and manipulate opinion for different sorts of readers.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
Number of pages207
ISBN (Print)9781783274406
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Print Culture
  • Rogues
  • Crime
  • Early Modern
  • London
  • Cultural History
  • England


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