Prince Of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story Of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook by Matt HoulbrookPrince Of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story Of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook by Matt Houlbrook

Prince Of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story Of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook

byMatt Houlbrook

Hardcover | July 26, 2016

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Meet Netley Lucas, Prince of Tricksters—royal biographer, best-selling crime writer, and gentleman crook. In the years after the Great War, Lucas becomes infamous for climbing the British social ladder by his expert trickery—his changing names and telling of tales. An impudent young playboy and a confessed confidence trickster, he finances his far-flung hedonism through fraud and false pretenses. After repeated spells in prison, Lucas transforms himself into a confessing “ex-crook,” turning his inside knowledge of the underworld into a lucrative career as freelance journalist and crime expert. But then he’s found out again—exposed and disgraced for faking an exclusive about a murder case. So he reinvents himself, taking a new name and embarking on a prolific, if short-lived, career as a royal biographer and publisher. Chased around the world by detectives and journalists after yet another sensational scandal, the gentleman crook dies as spectacularly as he lived—a washed-up alcoholic, asphyxiated in a fire of his own making.

The lives of Netley Lucas are as flamboyant as they are unlikely. In Prince of Tricksters, Matt Houlbrook picks up the threads of Lucas’s colorful lies and lives. Interweaving crime writing and court records, letters and life-writing, Houlbrook tells Lucas’s fascinating story and, in the process, provides a panoramic view of the 1920s and ’30s. In the restless times after the Great War, the gentlemanly trickster was an exemplary figure, whose tall tales and bogus biographies exposed the everyday difficulties of knowing who and what to trust. Tracing how Lucas both evoked and unsettled the world through which he moved, Houlbrook shows how he prompted a pervasive crisis of confidence that encompassed British society, culture, and politics.

Taking readers on a romp through Britain, North America, and eventually into Africa, Houlbrook confronts readers with the limits of our knowledge of the past and challenges us to think anew about what history is and how it might be made differently.
Matt Houlbrook is professor of cultural history at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918–1957, also published by the University of Chicago Press. He lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Title:Prince Of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story Of Netley Lucas, Gentleman CrookFormat:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:July 26, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022613315X

ISBN - 13:9780226133157

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Part 1 Telling Stories: Crime and Confidence after the Great War

Chapter 1 The Aristocrat of Crooks
Chapter 2 A Curious Kink in the Character

Part 2 Selling Selves: Ghosts and Life Stories

Chapter 3 The Ex-crook Who Has Now Taken Up the Pen
Chapter 4 The Comic Book Criminologist
Chapter 5 Ghosts and Their Doings

Part 3 Bogus Biographies: Literary Scandal and the Politics of Culture

Chapter 6 Writing Royal Lives
Chapter 7 The Courtier and the Con Man
Chapter 8 Stunts and Scandals

Part 4 Denouement

Chapter 9 My Selves

Cooling Out: Has the World Changed, or Have I Changed?


Editorial Reviews

“Houlbrook plunged down the historical rabbit hole to follow Netley Lucas, and, in an astonishing feat of historical detective work, using everything from court records and newspaper reports to publishers’ archives and the correspondence of the royal household, found that this elusive figure adopted nearly forty different names and identities across his life. . . . All those interested in interwar cultures of crime and punishment, the development of popular journalism and life-writing, and the representation of the modern monarchy, will find this a rich, provocative, and memorable work.”