Dick Turpin: Fact or Fiction

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time 1 min read
Dick Turpin book cover

Highwayman Dick Turpin is an intriguing figure, however how much of his story is based on fact? Professor James Sharpe, author of Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman reveals the history behind some of the popular common myths built up around this dashing highwayman.

Myth 1 – Dick Turpin was not a romantic ‘Robin Hood’ type figure – contemporary court records and newspaper reports suggest that he was a nasty thug, very happy to use violence to achieve his ends.

Myth 2 – Actually, he did not have a horse called Black Bess, and never made the ride to York. There’s no contemporary evidence about his horse’s name, while the ride to York was attributed to another highwayman over half a century before Turpin’s criminal career.

Fact 3 – The modern image of Turpin was created by a novel published nearly a century after his death – William Harrison Ainsworth’s Rookwood of 1834, which launched Turpin as we know him – and the new model Turpin rapidly became extremely popular.

Join Professor James Sharpe for a special event at the Workhouse Museum on Saturday 23 September 2017, when he will reveal more about the myths built up around this infamous English Highwayman in his sincere bid to recapture real history!

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