Conspiracy on Cato Street
A Tale of Liberty and Revolution in Regency London
by Vic Gatrell
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Pub Date 23 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 01 Jun 2022
From the author of City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London and The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London's Golden Age
On the night of 23 February 1820, twenty-five impoverished craftsmen assembled in an obscure stable in Cato Street, London, with a plan to massacre the whole British cabinet at its monthly dinner. The Cato Street Conspiracy was the most sensational of all plots aimed at the British state since Guy Fawkes' Gunpowder Plot of 1605. It ended in betrayal, arrest, and trial, and with five conspirators publicly hanged and decapitated for treason. Their failure proved the state's physical strength, and ended hopes of revolution for a century. Vic Gatrell explores this dramatic yet neglected event in unprecedented detail through spy reports, trial interrogations, letters, speeches, songs, maps, and images. Attending to the 'real lives' and habitats of the men, women, and children involved, he throws fresh light on the troubled and tragic world of Regency Britain, and on one of the most compelling and poignant episodes in British history.
‘In his gripping new book, Vic Gatrell rescues the Cato Street conspirators from “the enormous condescension of posterity”, and reconstructs in enthralling detail the world of low taverns, debtors’ prisons and radical extremism from which they came. This is a brilliantly written masterpiece that triumphantly succeeds in restoring humanity and dignity to its subjects.’ Richard J. Evans, author of The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815–1914
‘Erudite, engaging and brilliantly wide-ranging, Vic Gatrell’s Conspiracy on Cato Street is peppered with revealing detail and is compulsively readable. This is historical scholarship at its very finest.’ Emma Griffin, author of Bread Winner: An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy