This article does not cite any sources. (June 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The eponymous narrator is a Sussex country boy who is the son of a sailor and wishes to go to sea himself. He is taken to London by his uncle Sir Charles Tregellis, a highly respected gentleman and arbiter of fashion who is on familiar terms with the most important people of Great Britain. The novel interweaves Rodney's coming-of-age story with that of his friend Boy Jim's boxing endeavours. Jim has been brought up by a blacksmith whom he believes to be his uncle - the blacksmith Harrison was a famous former boxer and the 'nephew' wishes to fight too. So a large portion of it deals with the famous bare-knuckle boxers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such as Jem Belcher, John Jackson, Daniel Mendoza, Dutch Sam, and others. The book includes vignettes of a number of historical personages, notably the Prince Regent, Lord Nelson, Sir John Lade, Lord Cochrane and Beau Brummell. There are also descriptions of thuggery, of gambling and cheating, and of dangerous horse drawn chases.
The novel was dramatised as a four-part serial on BBC Radio 4 in 1983, which was repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra in March 2020.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|