Antonia Hodgson is the editor in chief of Little, Brown UK. She lives in London and can see the last fragments of the old city wall from her living room. The Devil in the Marshalsea is her first novel and first in the Thomas Hawkins series. Her second, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins was published in 2016.
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A 2016 Conversation With Antonia Hodgson about her Thomas Hawkins novels
Your first two novels are both set in London in the late 1720s. What drew you to this place and time?
I'd written a previous novel that didn't work out, but a small part of it was set in early Georgian London. It's such a lively, fascinating period and I couldn't understand why it had been so neglected, especially in fiction. London was the greatest city in the world at the time, with a population of over 600,000. There were pockets of elegance, but it was a filthy, drunken, chaotic place - with no police force. The English were fiercely protective and proud of their unique liberty: they had a constitutional monarchy, no standing army, no Censorship Act. Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin both lived in London in the 1720s - and the freedoms they witnessed certainly informed their revolutionary writings.
There was a very dark side to this society of course including the rise of the slave trade and brutal punishments for minor crimes. And while it's easy to associate the age with fun-loving gin drinkers, in truth it was more like a crack epidemic. Gin - closer to poorly distilled moonshine than what we add to our martinis today &...
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