Darkest Cardiff: Women and Children’s Desperate Lives in Victorian Hell

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Darkest Cardiff is a compelling history book recently released by John F. Wake. As a former Detective Inspector, Wake reveals how inequality led women and children to crime in the Victorian era.


Darkest Cardiff: A Peek into Hell is a compelling, well-researched history book. It uncovers the injustices faced by, and stories of, the women and children from the backstreets of Victorian South Wales and, more particularly, Cardiff’s south side.

This is the sixth book covering this topic by author John F. Wake, and was released on 11 December 2020.

The term “Darkest Cardiff” was an epithet the media used at the time to throw a light on “the most disgusting of streets”. From alcoholism to prostitution, John lays bare the social inequalities of Victorian Wales and the crime it tragically led to.

Interest in Victorian and Georgian-era crime is booming. John’s timely work dialogues with the media exposé in Wales Online of 13 December detailing the unsolved attempted murder blemishing the tale of the original Severn Tunnel. Darkest Cardiff is unique, however, in its focus on women and children’s lives, which are often wrongly ignored.

“I have always hated social injustice in all its forms. When I research these stories, it makes me sad and angry to see the leaders of a community treat their citizens so cruelly. So much crime of this time was a result of the way people were forced to live their lives. I hope to shine a light on their untold stories,” said Wake.

John is available for comment and interview on his book and Victorian crime. He has delivered many well-received talks about his books, and his newly formed Facebook group already has thousands of active members.

He has lifelong expertise in understanding crime, having joined the Cardiff City Police in 1965. He was first posted to Bute Street (Tiger Bay) Police Station, and became a Detective Inspector with the South Wales Police.

Example chapters:

The most arrested: Florence, a sad woman, described as a dipsomaniac, was arrested over 500 times for alcohol-related behaviour. How did a well-brought-up and educated woman from Newport end up in cells across South Wales?

The Splott Chemist and the Schoolgirl is a story that captured the headlines. Who seduced who? Society’s attitudes towards women and girls are apparent via the police investigation and trial in Swansea.

Tragic characters like Maggie Sawdust and Lousy Lizzy are the subjects of poems via guest contributors.

DARKEST CARDIFF is available to order from bookshops in print and ebook formats: https://geni.us/darkest-cardiff-buy



John F. Wake: +44 (0)7989 033227 / jfhwake@gmail.com


David Norrington: +44 (0)2921 888 321 / admin@wordcatcher.com / https://www.wordcatcher.com/

Original article can be found at: https://www.wordcatcher.com/press-release-darkest-cardiff/

Cover image attached. Additional images are available from Wordcatcher Publishing


Release ID: 88990586