history of the life of the late Mr Jonathan Wild the Great (1893) by Henry Fielding

The history of the life of the late Mr Jonathan Wild the Great   Novel 

Mr Jonathan Wild the Great
Mr Jonathan Wild the Great

A masterpiece of sustained irony, the biography of the noted thief-taker hanged at Tyburn in 1725 being thrown into the form of a parable on the theme that goodness must not be divorced from greatness, or the latter will degenerate into pure rascality. [This and the Journey appeared in the MiscellaniesThe history of the life of the late Mr Jonathan Wild the Great

Jonathan Wild, also spelt Wilde (1682 or 1683 – 24 May 1725), was a London underworld figure notable for operating on both sides of the law, posing as a public-spirited crimefighter entitled the "Thief-Taker General". Wild simultaneously ran a significant criminal empire and used his crime-fighting role to remove rivals and launder the proceeds of his own crimes.

 Wild exploited a strong public demand for action during a major London 18th-century crime wave in the absence of any effective police force. As a powerful gang-leader himself, he became a master manipulator of legal systems, collecting the rewards offered for valuables which he had stolen himself, bribing prison guards to release his colleagues, and blackmailing any who crossed him. He was consulted on crime by the government, due to his apparently remarkable prowess in locating stolen items and those who had stolen them

. He was responsible for the arrest and execution of Jack Sheppard, a petty thief and burglar who had won the public's affection as a lovable rogue. However, Wild's duplicity became known, and his men began to give evidence against him. After a suicide attempt, he was hanged at Tyburn before a massive crowd. He was featured in novels, poems and plays, some of them noting parallels between Wild and the contemporaneous Prime Minister Walpole, known as "The Great Corrupter". 

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