Print and the Female Voice: Representations of Women's Crime in London, 1690–1735

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Abstract

Between 1690 and 1735, London experienced a female crime wave. This article examines how this female criminality was represented in the burgeoning world of popular crime literature. Traditional genres of print remained wedded to conventional gender stereotypes, but the new quasi-official genres of the Old Bailey Proceedings and the Ordinary's Accounts represented female thieves in first-person narratives which allowed the complex motivations for their crimes to be examined. These provided the background for Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, and led to at least one accused criminal telling her story in her own publication. In the longer term, however, such representations of female theft did not proliferate.

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