Nicola wrote a great piece for the Oxford University Press blog:
In eighteenth and early nineteenth-century England, prisons were popular tourist sites for wealthy visitors. They were also effectively run as private businesses by the Wardens, who charged the inmates for the privilege of being incarcerated there. Indeed prisoners from the higher ranks of society, who had the means to pay for better accommodation, routinely expected to be treated better than lower class or “common” criminals. Between 1810 and 1814, William Collins Burke Jackson, the son of a wealthy East India Company merchant, had the great misfortune of being able to sample the amenities offered to young gentlemen within five different penal institutions. Here is a brief tour of three of them.
Susan Elkin has written a great review of The Profligate Son.
As in so many families, the father/son relationship in this case was complex and dogged by inflexibility and the total inability of either man to understand the other’s problems. Nicola Phillips’s excellently researched book ensures that, 200 years later, we see both points of view and she is especially good at comparing William’s difficulties with those facing young people today, as well as using his tragic story to illuminate Regency attitudes.