Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

Fact vs Fiction: The Early Years of the Liverpool Constabulary Force in Contemporary Literature

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2018), 167, (1), 93–109.

Abstract

In 1836 Liverpool’s newly-elected reformist Town Council set up one of the first provincial police forces to be modelled on the Metropolitan Police. The Liverpool Constabulary Force soon established a fine reputation, despite the foibles of many early recruits. Unusual insights into the human dimension of these pioneering days of modern policing may be found in two fictionalised accounts of life as a policeman in Liverpool: a series of articles in the Penny Satirist in 1843–4, purportedly written by an ex-constable, and a long-forgotten novel (The Life, Adventures, and Opinions of a Liverpool Policeman, and His Contemporaries) that was first published in 1841. Internal evidence and local records allow us to identify the authors of the two works for the first time and follow their pursuit of literary fame. More important from the historian’s perspective is the extraordinary life-story that emerges of one very fallible human who tried to make a career in Liverpool’s ‘New Police’. In the process it becomes evident that the dividing line between fiction and real life is anything but clear-cut.

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Details

Author details

Foggo, Nick