Prince of Tricksters
The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook
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.
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?