On 15th July 1889, Charles Swinscow, a fifteen-year-old telegraph messenger-boy was interviewed by PC Luke Hanks in connection with a series of petty thefts at the Central Telegraph Office. Swinscow was found to have eighteen shillings on his person at the time of the interview, three or four times his weekly wage. Where had he got the money?
‘I'll tell you the truth,’ the boy confessed. ‘I got the money for going to bed with gentlemen at Mr Hammond's house in Cleveland Street.’
Almost by accident, PC Hanks had uncovered a network of male prostitution involving telegraph messenger-boys, politicians and peers of the realm. But it didn’t stop there. It was whispered that a royal prince, Prince Albert Victor, son of the Prince of Wales and Heir Presumptive to the Imperial Throne, was a regular patron of Number 19 Cleveland Street. It was a scandal which could destroy the monarchy. At all costs it had to be suppressed.
The Cleveland Street scandal is one of the greatest, yet least exposed and least understood, scandals of the Victorian age. Using a wealth of new material and written in Neil's acclaimed and exciting style, Number 19 Cleveland Street will be a Victorian conspiracy thriller: by turns bawdy, funny, sad, exciting, and mysterious.
Neil McKenna is an award-winning writer and journalist who has written for the Independent, the Independent on Sunday, the Observer, the Guardian, the New Statesman and Channel 4 Television.Neil's bestselling biography The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde was published by Century in 2003 and by Basic Books in the United State, won widespread and glowing reviews on both sides of the Atlantic and was nominated for several awards. Previously, Neil wrote two ground-breaking books – On the Margins and The Silent Epidemic – about men who have sex with men and the Aids epidemic in the develo...
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