The Plymouth tragedy


The Plymouth tragedy was printed in London in around 1778. Its subtitle tells us that is ‘a full and particular account of the strange and wonderful appearing of the ghost of Madam E. Johnson’. This is a chapbook, a cheap form of literature available in the 18th and 19th centuries; chapbooks were bought in bulk, usually as un-made up sheets by pedlars who walked round the country selling them, binding and sometimes colouring them on their journeys between fairs and villages. This chapbook is more extensive, and contains poems, riddles, charms, stories, codes and word-games. The standard of illustration, made with relief woodblocks, is high.

The pages shown here contain hieroglyphic poems and texts, in which images are substituted for words or phrases. There are also codes, a love-charm and knot poems – these were designed so that the reader could enter and leave the poem at any point, thus altering the conclusion.

Full title:
The Plymouth tragedy. Being a full and particular account of the strange and wonderful appearing of the ghost of Madam E. Johnson
estimated 1778, London
Chapbook / Games and toys / Illustration / Image
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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