Your Money or Your Life: The Myths and Legends of the British Highwayman
The highwayman has become a dashing figure within British history, immortalised as both an attractive anti-hero in Plunkett & Macleane (1999), and a fashionable dandy by Adam and the Ants (‘Stand and Deliver’, 1981). BBC comedy series Blackadder the Third even lampooned the mythic status of highwayman through Baldrick’s slavish devotion to a new thief named The Shadow (1987). Tales of the highwayman’s derring-do and apparently legendary exploits have turned him into an anti-establishment figure. Yet with such mythic stature comes actual myths that become difficult to dispel in the face of reality. For example, Dick Turpin is most famous for a midnight gallop north to York on his faithful mare, Black Bess. Yet the real Turpin was a brutal robber, rapist, and murderer. Yet the legend has stuck, and is still repeated as genuine fact today. This talk explores some of the myths and legends associated with the highwayman, and we’ll dig into possible reasons for the myths enduring where the truth does not.
Icy Sedgwick is working on a PhD exploring the representation of the haunted house in contemporary Hollywood horror films. She runs the Fabulous Folklore podcast, investigating European folklore and its appearances in popular culture. In case she tires of the research, Icy also writes dark fantasy and Gothic horror fiction.
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Amy Hale is an Atlanta based writer, curator and critic, ethnographer and folklorist speaking and writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall. She is the author of Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of the Fern Loved Gully (Strange Attractor 2020) and is currently working on several Colquhoun related manuscripts. She is also the editor of Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses (Palgrave 2022). She has contributed gallery texts and essays for a number of institutions including Tate, Camden Arts Centre, Art UK, Arusha Galleries, Heavenly Records and she is a curator and host for the Last Tuesday Society lecture series.
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