There are so many great releases this October, and among them is this fascinating book about London’s most ruthless and notorious girl-gang, Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants. Read about it below and see why we’ve chosen it as a book of the month.
In 1800’s and 1900’s London, shop owners across the capital had much to worry about. Expensive clothing and jewellery was going missing from their stores and the culprits, it seemed, were slippery. Known as the Forty Elephants, they were England’s first documented all-female gang. They plundered, fought, and associated with some of London’s best-known and ferocious gangsters. And they terrorised their rivals; male and female alike.
To any lover of history or true crime, this story has everything. It’s different from your run-of-the-mill gangster tale, in that its heroes are a close-knit gang of glamorous femme fatales who stole and seduced their way to infamy. Set in atmospheric Victorian London, it’s a story of heists, opportunity, violence and vice. And it has, as its protagonist, the notorious Alice Diamond.
Diamond led the Elephants for decades. By her teenage years she was already said to be the cleverest shoplifter in London, and her gang was described by newspapers as being recognisable due to their good looks. The story has all the elements of a blockbusting film but, unusually, not much has been written about the Elephants. Apart from the odd article online (the most prominent being a piece in The Guardian), Brian McDonald’s book is one of the few pieces of literature about this fascinating story, and certainly the most comprehensive.
McDonald is in a terrific position to write about Alice Diamond and her gang; born in South London in 1937, his uncles were leaders of the Elephant and Castle Gang, the male group of gangsters to whom the Forty Elephants were linked. His previous book, Gangs of London, proved incredibly popular and we expect Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants to be just as well received. Features are already scheduled to run in both the Daily Mail and Vanity Fair.
Out on the 22 October, published by Milo Books, it will prove popular as a very well-researched and written piece of true crime as well as being a fascinating story about an overlooked period in London’s history. Milo Books have a great track record of producing high quality non-fiction titles. Add that reputation to a story as rich and captivating as this, and there’s no doubt Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants will prove incredibly popular with all kinds of readers.