True Pretenses bibliography

If you have any questions about any of the historical background of the book, feel free to comment or e-mail me! I love talking about this stuff. This is only a partial bibliography with some of my favorite sources.

1. The Big Con by David Maurer. Yes, he’s talking about con artists of a much later era than my book, but let’s be real, there is nothing new under the sun. While the specific slang and operating procedures described in this book might not have existed, the principles hadn’t changed, and I have reason to believe that many of the short cons described in this book existed in the Regency era.

2. Elite Women in English Political Life, 1754–1790 by Elaine Chalus. What it says on the tin. Invaluable to figuring out what, exactly, Lydia does all day.

3. The Regency Underworld by Donald Low. This book helped me craft Ash’s backstory. There’s even a chapter on child criminals.

4. The Experience of Urban Poverty, 1723–1782. Contains detailed information about the management and operation of eighteenth century workhouses, a lot of which seems to carry forward into the Regency.

5. Life in the English Country House: a Social and Architectural History by Mark Girouard. This book helped me design Wheatcroft and understand its workings.

6. The Jews of Georgian England, 1714–1830 by Todd Endelman. This book is amazing. Five stars.

7. Vocabulary of the Flash Language by James Hardy Vaux, first published 1819. A glossary of English criminal slang, with many usage examples. Vaux wrote this while serving a sentence in Australia (judging by the dedication, as a way of sucking up to the local legal establishment) and he clearly had a gift for dictionary writing. This book not only teaches slang terms, but it indirectly teaches a lot about London criminal culture and practice.

8. Glass Houses: A History of Greenhouses, Orangeries and Conservatories by Mary Woods and Arete Swartz Warren. This book is awesome, and the source of most of my greenhouse information.

9. The Angel out of the House: Philanthropy and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England by Dorice Williams Elliott. Helped me understand how Lydia would go about her charitable work, the kinds of challenges and anxieties she’d face and the blind spots she’d have.

10. An Encyclopedia of Gardening, comprising the THEORY AND PRACTICE of HORTICULTURE, FLORICULTURE, ARBORCULTURE, and LANDSCAPE-GARDENING by J.C. Loudon (1824). A great book of which I read only a small fraction, that taught me about hothouse gardening, the care of orange trees, and what varieties of cactus Jamie might have.

11. The Complete Servant by Samuel and Sarah Adams. Published in 1825 by a married couple with many years of experience in service (a butler/house-steward and housekeeper at the time of publication). This is a guide intended both for servants themselves and for employers, and it even includes suggested staff sizes and compositions based on family income. Awesome! Helped me write the staff of Wheatcroft and the Dower House.

12. Schemes and Scams by Douglas P. Shadel and John T. A guide from the 1990s, cowritten by a fraud prosecutor and a former con artist, to help older adults avoid being conned. It’s a great book that helped me get a handle on the difficulties of prosecuting con artists (some of the same difficulties experienced in the Regency), the dark reality of conning, and the emotional effects of being targeted by con artists.

13. Growing Up in England: the Experience of Childhood, 1600–1914 by Anthony Fletcher. I couldn’t have written Lydia’s family the way I did without this book. A wonderful and detailed resource.

I also used again many of the resources on Sussex and towns from the Sweet Disorder bibliography. The Folklore of Sussex‘s section on Advent and Christmas was especially helpful.


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