Reinvestigating the London ‘Hooligan’ Panic of 1898

Davies, AM ORCID: 0000-0002-7143-547X
(2020) Reinvestigating the London ‘Hooligan’ Panic of 1898. The English Historical Review, 135 (576). 1229 - 1259.

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This article examines the agency of a group previously neglected by historians: the so-called ‘folk devils’ of historical moral panics. Orthodox studies of moral panics foreground the role of the mass media in creating folk devils, along with the responses of agents such as the police and the courts. This article takes a different approach, by examining the lived experience of folk devils themselves. It focuses on the London ‘Hooligan’ scare of 1898. Using the example of John D’Arcy, an eighteen-year-old from South London, who came to embody the Hooligan threat following his conviction for murder, it explores how a prominent folk devil and his family sought to negotiate, and refute, his demonisation by a sensation-hungry press. Two letters written by D’Arcy in prison enable us to give voice to a Hooligan for the first time. These demonstrate D’Arcy’s understanding of, and his attempt to refute, his demonisation, and his subsequent representation of himself as a humble, pious penitent. This study offers a new perspective on the class dynamics of late Victorian society, by showing how the D’Arcys, in alliance with the prominent prison visitor Katharine Parr, Irish Nationalist MPs and the medical officer at Parkhurst convict prison, effectively mobilised the rhetoric of moral reformation as they strove to free John from the stigma attached to him during an episode of moral panic.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2019 10:18
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2022 07:10
DOI: 10.1093/ehr/ceaa257
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