For Londoners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, debt was a part of everyday life. But when your creditors lost their patience, you might be thrown into one of the capital's most notorious jails: the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison.
The Marshalsea became a byword for misery; in the words of one of its inmates, it was 'hell in epitome'. But the prison was also a microcosm of London life and it housed a colourful range of characters, including Charles Dickens's father. The experience haunted the writer, who went on to immortalise the Marshalsea in his work, most memorably in Little Dorrit.
Jerry White tells the history of the Marshalsea through the lives of its prisoners - rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. Told through these extraordinary lives, the story of the Marshalsea gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.