Talk:Sweeney Todd

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Date of "A String of Pearls"[edit]

There's a reference on p. 410 of The Drama of Yesterday and To-day (Clement Scott, 1899) to the "grim drama by George Didbin Pitt, first performed at the Britannia, Hoxton, in 1842, and called 'Sweeney Todd, the Barber of Fleet Street; or, The String of Pearls'." This is five years earlier than the article's date of adaptation/performance at the Britannia, for those interested in tracing what (or whom) it may have influenced in its day. It was apparently "popular at the East-End theatres" including the Britannia, where it was reportedly (p. 508, Notes and Queries ninth series June 29 1901) played "as recently as 1878."—Preceding unsigned comment added by Dan Allosso (talkcontribs) 02:47, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


Just chopped out this from the adaptions section:

  • In Herman Melville's 1855 Benito Cereno, a slave shaves his Captain's beard and deliberately cuts him with the razor to keep him in place because there is a mutiny planned and a guest on the ship mustn't know what is going on.

I fail to see what this has to do with Sweeney Todd, I'm afraid. No barber, no cannibalism. GM Pink Elephant —Preceding comment was added at 20:02, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Pork chops and not chop sui, there are frames and relations visible, especially in the film. If you start up at the point that legend or myth is generally an allegorie system, you can think on't a german connection. There has been in second world war the organisation Todt, which doesn't worked for humanity. So it's the difference of D-day or T-day. The barber shop is something methaphorical and in this gothic shape in many directions good for an interpretation. Historic roots are possible either. By forming a cynic system which depends on cannibalism, with this fine little oven in, the german will to rule the whole world in the real historical connection is a system-like comparison. IT's a pity that Hitler was'nt a lion nore a painter or a barber. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:05, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

That's really weird. At any rate, I've got to agree. I don't see any SOLID connection to Sweeney Todd. Certainly one can draw lines from one thing to another as much as there are connections, but real solid connection is what matters. And Hitler was a painter. SG —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:21, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

St Dunstan's Church[edit]

Does anyone know which St Dunstan's church was involved?Harry Potter 23:24, 11 Oct 2003 (UTC)

St Dunstan's in the West is one mentioned in various London tourist walking tours - see here: [1]Ray3055 (talk) 15:04, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Did Sweeney Exist?[edit]

I am making major revisions to reflect the fact that Sweeney Todd was a fictional character. Arieh 14JUL2004

I'm really sorry that the link did not work, I fixed it. Mathshop2 02:35, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I can not believe that someone undid all the changes I made. That is a sign of ignorance. Even though I personaly believe he did exist, I made sure to include both sides and stressed the controvercy. I changed my mind about reverting it. I don't care if the article gets locked, I've looked at the history and it's been reverted back too many times. But, I will say it is people like you that make it immpossible for wikipedia to be a reputable source because you work so hard to represent your personal opionions as facts. Shame on you. Mathshop2 02:15, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Mathshop2 - the reasons I reverted it are twofold. (a), to head a section "The Real Sweeney Todd" seems to give over-strong support to the hypothesis of existence. (b), if you read discussion elsewhere on this page, there seems to be considerable doubt cast on the work of Peter Haining, and no real repudiation of those doubts. (As far as I can see, Haining is the main or only source for the article, so they don't really support one another.) For what it's worth, I don't have an opinion one way or the other on Sweeney's existence and would be happy to see the article explain document-based evidence for the theory. Barnabypage 12:30, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

It is slanted to state that Todd did not exist as a fact. There is dissagrement about this so it is only ethical to present both sides of the story. I am going to go ahead and make a few minnor changes to the article to reinforce the dissagreement and show both sides. Mathshop2 18:48, 19 August 2007 I corrected the point of view and added some text. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mathshop2 (talkcontribs) 20:21:57, August 19, 2007 (UTC).

  • Apparently, Sweeny Todd was NOT a fictional character. He was a real barber, who really had a shop on Fleet Street, and really killed upwards of a hundred people, then really baked them into meat pies. Beyond that, most of the fiction written about him takes many liberties about his personality, motives, and specifics of the crime, but the legend of Sweeny Todd is true. Also see "Sweeney Todd: The Real Story of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" by Peter Haining (ISBN 1861055870)--TexasDex 03:57, Jun 10, 2005 (UTC)

Sweeney Todd cannot be proven. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:29, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Peter Haining's claims (and those of the rather piss poor researchers who read his book and treated it as gospel without doing any true research of their own) are considerable laughable by all legitimate historians. Hainingclaims to have found the guy in the Newgate Calendar as a real person, but these documents exist and have been checked and absolutely do not contain anything which would show that this was ever a real person. We owe it to ourselves to be better than that. DreamGuy 11:39, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

CourtTV's Online CrimeLibrary has enentire section on the factual man, Sweeny Todd

There are valid arguments on both sides of this issue. To give just two: in support of his merely being a legend is the difficulty researchers have had in pinning down (and agreeing on) just who Sweeney was, while in support of there having been a real person is the peculiar insistance Sweeney has for invariably haunting Fleet Street - urban legends almost always occur "in these very woods" or "just down the road," not five time zones away. I have changed the article to reflect what I think we can all agree on, which is that Todd's actual existance is debated. --Badger151 06:55, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
No, it's not, and your original research and false claims about urban legends are not relevant here. When fiction places a fictinal character at a specific location, and it even becomes art of his known name "the demon of Fleet Street" OF COURSE it doesn't get put to other locals as easily... The WP:NPOV and WP:RS policies are very clear on this issue: we go by what the experts say and do not give WP:UNDUE weight to what some small fringe group with less academic credential has to say, and we absolutely do not change an article based upon the wild speculation of members of the public changing the article directly. DreamGuy 14:55, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

I am not sure that reference 3 is really a definitive yes or no on existence of Todd as the person doing the research is a just a fiction writer himself. What makes his claim more valid than another fiction writer? Reference 4 only says “What Mr. Haining presents as truth MAY be the colourful [sic] imaginings of the day's tabloids” and then does not prove or disprove anything. It only says that Todd may not have existed, not that he does not. Reference 5 says “There are no clear answers.” So if the article is going to say that he does not exist when it just is not clear if he did or did not exist … well at the very least better references are needed.--Murphoid (talk) 00:59, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

In London a few years ago, I had afternoon tea at the Old Bank of England on Fleet Street. They had a note in their menu saying that the tunnels under the building were used by Sweeney Todd himself. I don't know how relevant this is except to show that big, reputable organizations are either taken in by Sweeney-madness or capitalizing on it. At the time I thought they were entirely sincere, but it's been a few years since I was there. Rkaufman13 (talk) 16:38, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Can one of the Todd does not exist crowd make a counter argument, or I will make slight changes to reflect that his existence is highly suspect instead of definately didn't exist.--Murphoid (talk) 22:06, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

It's not possible to prove a negative. All of the secondary sources that have been presented as evidence that he did exist do not have any support except each other. There are no primary sources (contemporary newspaper, court records, etc) that indicate that he existed at all... and if true, a story like this one should have a significant number of contemporary primary sources available. -- Upholder (talk) 22:20, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Point of deductive logic: proof positive exists only in lack of negative proof, proving it is possible to prove a negative--or exclusionary/exculpuatory---point. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:25, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
I accept fully that you can't prove a negative. I still feel that if Todd does not exist the current references are weak and there must be some better ones out there. None of the references come from a viewpoint that Todd does not exist. They all come from the viewpoint that he may not have existed. I would like to see a reference from a historian who is confident that he did not exist. Common beleif indeed does not constitute proof, but you have to admit that the common understanding is that Todd existed, so his non existence must be firmly established. Modern historians doubt Robin Hood existed, though there is older research that says he does. That wikipedia article does a better job of addressing the arguments for or against and do say that a disagreement exists. I think the same is needed here.--Murphoid (talk) 23:01, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
To firmly establish that he did not exist would be to prove a negative... which brings me back to my original comment. -- Upholder (talk) 20:36, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Instead of mearly deleting edits and clips of discussion, a reasonable compromise is to put in the acticle that his existance is a debateable topic, as it clearly is. After all, this article is suposed to be the truth and this would be the truth. Instead of foolishly arguing back and forth, a compromise is the civilized way of ending this petty bickering - and makes the article more accurate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
All of the evidence presented to date has been thoroughly debunked. Claiming that Sweeney Todd existed based on those sources is akin to claiming that Hansel and Grettle existed due to the published works of the Brothers Grimm. At this point in time, there is no serious debate on the matter. -- Upholder (talk) 18:58, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
I beg to differ - the amount of documentation on either side of this, and the attention tis article has gotten certainly proves that there is a serious debate on this topic. Each side is as strong as the other in thier opinions on it. There is no proof to conclusively say that he does NOT exist, thusly - there is DOUBT, and the article should reflect that. We cant go around saying conclusively one way or the other, because no one really knows. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:13, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
It is not possible to prove a negative. Therefore, there cannot be proof that something does NOT exist. If you want to say that he did exist, the burden of proof is on you to find a reliable source that shows that he did. The Peter Haining material has been shown to be insufficient as the sources that he cites to support his claims do not have any of the evidence he claims and therefore do not qualify as a reliable source. -- Upholder (talk) 05:56, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
The fact that there is a debate here, proves that its debatable. You can prove very easily that its not true by finding real documentation stating that, or proving the evidence wrong - which you have failed to do besides stating your own bias. The simple fact of the matter is that your opinion on the credibility of one of the sources is a moot point - you have to prove that its not credible and thats your burden. As it is, this is in debate because no information has proven 100% on either position. as far as I'm concerned your argument is less credible because you are governing based on your own opinion, and not the fairness or neutrality the article should have. Linking to a wikipedia article, after you've killed the credibility of this one doesn't help your statement, and plays up as a convenient excuse to not back up your side of it. History has shown us that almost all fiction is based in fact. Most of the fictional killer characters in tv/movies are based on one or more serial killer. Sweeney Todd is no different. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:31, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, and I laughed at this comment, which proves it is laughable. Mugwumpjism (talk) 10:11, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
The only evidence provided in the article that Sweeney Todd existed is all based on Peter Haining's works, which has three properly cited reliable sources showing that his work is sub-par and not verifiable back to its claimed sources (see footnotes 3, 4 and 5 in the article). I reiterate, if you wish to include the claim that he existed, the burden of proof is on you to find reliable sources that show he did: Outside a legal context, "burden of proof" means that someone suggesting a new theory or stating a claim must provide evidence to support it: it is not sufficient to say "you can't disprove this." Specifically, when anyone is making a bold claim, it is not someone else's responsibility to disprove the claim, but is rather the responsibility of the person who is making the bold claim to prove it. In short, X is not proven simply because "not X" cannot be proven. (from Burden of proof#Science and other uses). Furthermore, the standard for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifibility and all claims that do not live up to that standard must be deleted by policy, which is what has happened here. -- Upholder (talk) 10:03, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Again I say, The references DO NOT AFFIRM that Todd did not exist. None of the references say that Todd did not exist. The references do not even claim that Todd did not exist. You are holding the article hostage by claiming the reference say things that they simply DO NOT say. Reference 3 has research being done by a fiction writer. Reference 4 only says that Todd may not have existed. Reference 5 says “There are no clear answers.” If there is one artcle you can point to written by a historian who in any way claims that Todd did not exist than I will withdraw my objection completely.--Murphoid (talk) 19:33, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

The references do not confirm that Todd did not exist because it is not possible by the rules of logic to prove a negative. Also, if you check the history for the article, you'll find that many editors have reverted the assertion that Todd existed and that I am by no means "holding the article hostage". I'm merely the only one pointing out the logical fallacy of demanding proof that is cannot exist. I say one more time: evidence that he existed can be found if he did exist. There cannot be proof that he did not exist regardless of if he did or not. Therefore the burden is to find evidence that he did exist if you wish to claim that he did. -- Upholder (talk) 21:17, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Haining claims that Todd was tried at the Old Bailey and hung outside Newgate Prison on January 25th, 1802. At that time, all death sentences had to be carried out within a limited time after the sentence was handed down. There are extensive records for both the Old Bailey (killings between 1800 and 1805) and Newgate Prison (all 1,120 men and 49 women executed between 1783 and 1902[2]. There is no Barker, Todd, Lovett, or any variation thereof listed in either set of records. -- Upholder (talk) 21:46, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
This is ridiculous. You keep talking about proving a negative when I am not asking anyone to do that. The references used in the article are not saying what the article says. That is what I have a problem with.--Murphoid (talk) 17:15, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Every claim that Todd did exist is based at one level or another on Peter Haining's research. The primary sources that Haining cites do not support his assertions (as the links provided in my comment above show). The references in the article show that Peter Haining's research is faulty by going back and looking at the primary sources and noting that they do not support his claims. That is why they were cited in the article. However, it is not possible by the rules of logic to do more and prove that he did not exist... which is why I keep talking about proving a negative. However, we can (and do) say that there is no evidence beyond Haining's debunked research that claims he did exist. -- Upholder (talk) 19:32, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
This is as close as I am going to get to what I want, so I will learn to live with it. Thanks for the discussion my friend the upholder. --Murphoid (talk) 22:03, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

virgil says: Its actually not certain that Sweeny Todd was a fictional charater like it said in the first paragragh —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:17, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

i think he did exist as there are records of a sweeney todd so he must exist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 15:19, January 11, 2008

What are these records? (The original cast recording is not the type of record we want.)--Murphoid (talk) 22:03, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I popped over to find the facts of the actual original case behind the stories. INstead, I foudn this debate, which is high on contention and low on content. However, A look at the free 1881 UK Censu available at does show a 'Sweeny Todd' as a 36 year old barber, and here's the link [3]. I offer this only as proof that there's SOMEONE of that name out there. I could find the scanned sheet tomorrow, but I'm not sure if a transcription of the 1881 UK census is a solid enough source. It's in the public record, and available via free sources in transcription, and the image by subscription... not sure on that. 04:22, 15 January 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by ThuranX (talkcontribs) It's an amusing coincidence if there was a real barber called Sweeny Todd in the 1881 Census (unless the Census entry was either (a) a joke or (b) someone who had the misfortune to be named Sweeny after the fictional character), but as he was born in 1845 and still alive in 1881 he can hardly have been a criminal active around 1800 and then hanged. (talk) 19:57, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

There are no contemporary references proving that Sweeney Todd did NOT exist because court reporters, journalists, and official records wouldn't have written "oh, by the way, Sweeney Todd doesn't exist." The New York Times doesn't mention that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist either. Someone hanged at Newgate on January 25th, 1802 would have been tried the week before, so searching the court and prison records for his name would be easy. (talk) 01:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

As I write this (and there has been nearly 20 edits today alone) the article seems fairly balanced. It seems to be clear in that the balance of probability (or evidence if you prefer) is that there was no Sweeny Todd, but this can't be proved conclusively. It also says that even if there wasn't an exact match, someone, even abroad, may have been the real life inspiration of the legend. That seems OK to me. Lets be blunt - does it really matter that much about a piece of fictional entertainment ?? The Yeti (talk) 00:33, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

1169 executions in 119 years seems a little low for a society that executed people for a wide variety of crimes (including theft)and carried out the executions shortly after sentencing. The calenders were collected from a wide variety of sources at different times. Can we be sure they are comprehensive? aegilthe ugly

As far as I can see there is no evidence (apart from a book by Peter Haining which is unreliable in its use of sources) that Sweeney Todd has any basis in fact. If that is the case, what's all the fuss about? And if that is not the case, where is the solid, verifiable evidence? I haven't seen any in the above very protracted discussion. Cooke (talk) 22:40, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

The blogger Kalebeul showed [4] several years ago that the Sweeney Todd story dates back at least to seventeenth century Calais, so I don't know what everyone is getting so worked up about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:22, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

wouldn't it help to detail what historical stories/people were used as the basis for the penny dreadful story? by knowing this it would be easier for people to judge whether it was based on a true story or not. novels and written stories very often draw their ideas from real life stories. and just because it's not mentioned in the old scotland yard records, does that really mean it didn't happen? those reocrds are hundreds of years old, so their could be some records missing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:38, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Does Sweeney exist?

Sweeney Todd did exist (Or at least i think). I'm not sure if that was his actual name but he did exist (I think). Tonight October 26, 2008 9/8 Central on history channel there is going to be a "Cities of the Underworld" about London. On the previews they mentioned his name. So you can try that. If you don't catch it I'm sure they'll show it again some time. If not you might be able to find it at I'm really excited to watch it. I LOVE the movie. It's awesome. Obviously if he did exist he wouldn't have sang all the time. Well i hope i was of some help.

I find it just truly sad that the first sentence says that Sweeney Todd us a fictional character again. Further debate is pointless as it is clear that it will just be changed back again. Another classic example of how Wikipedia will never be what it should be. Murphoid (talk) 04:12, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

You might wish to mention some other instances in which human bodies were disposed by very similar means in modern times. You should research the "Manwhich Scandal" in NY, NY in which a burger house was putting a little extra flavor in the "all beef" patties. There was also a taco shop.... well, you get the idea. Once it's been through a grinder.... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:19, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

18th/19th century[edit]

Thank you for the correction (not yet permanently linkable) of my typo, in the immediately following edit, by User:Jrbray. I recall noticing someone's apparent assertion that still earlier sources had been folded in, but in fact i must have retyped that digit in the course of the markup i added. No one else should waste time checking (for fear of an unnamed source) when that date got added to the article! --Jerzy(t) 03:45, 2004 Nov 29 (UTC)

TS Eliot -- "Sweeney among the nightingales"[edit]

Hello. I remember that TS Eliot wrote a poem called "Sweeney among the nightingales". Was that a reference to the Sweeney Todd of the 19th c ? On rereading it (e.g., [5]) I don't see a clear link but maybe someone can definitely say there is or there isn't. Something to think about perhaps. Regards & happy editing, Wile E. Heresiarch 08:37, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Sweeney was a stock figure in several of Eliot's poems ("Sweeney Erect", "Sweeney Agonistes", etc. I think he may have even made it into a draft of "The Waste Land") and seems mainly to be a means of mocking the Irish as grossly physical and brutish. Some critics think Eliot "borrowed" him from the Buile Suibhne(The Madness of Sweeney) which was first published in English during Eliot's lifetime. But he doesn't seem to have much to do directly with Sweeney Todd, unless both can be traced to the Madness of Sweeney. - Nunh-huh 04:17, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Separate page for musical?[edit]

I, for one, think that the Sondheim show deserves its own page, on which far more that is presented here can be put forth - such as musical and dramatic analysis, etc...

Have gone ahead with it. New page here. IvanP 19:00, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

outside the Bible[edit]

The edit summarized

(deleted "outside the Bible" because cannibalism doesn't appear in the Bible)

is a pretty good edit with a lousy summary, just for the record: The PoV that the Bible means what says remains influential, so construing cannibalism as not "appear[ing]" in it is highly PoV since it says "Take, eat; this is my body" at Matt 26:26, RSV. (But indeed that doesn't seem to be about eating guests.)
--Jerzyt 15:55, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

No cannibalism in the Bible? (talk) 13:06, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Comment by (moved from article)[edit]

Here's the problem with Wikipedia and random people posting 'knowledge' as fact. Some urban legends have truth to them, albeit stories tend to get embellished as they are put upon the stage. There was a man named Sweeney Todd, who worked as a barber on Fleet Street, who did use a trap door and a straight razor to off his customers, and whose victims did sometimes end up in meat pies. Extensive research by British author Peter Haining has shown supporting evidence for this without a doubt. [Please see link[6]] . And think twice before citing anything from Wikipedia. And CITING SOURCES BACK TO WIKIPEDIA IS LAME.
MightyWarrior 23:38, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Kids in what Movie doing Sweeney Todd musical?[edit]

I recently saw a movie where a couple of kids, against the wishes of their parents or someone, performed Sweeney Todd:the Musical in front of their class, I think. Can someone remind me what this movie was? Pretty well known cast from what I can recall. I just cant remember who.

Might be Jersey Girl (2004 film) in which "God That's Good" is rehearsed on and off throughout the film and performed near its completion. And: Don't forget to sign your posts! -- RayBirks 14:44, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
P.S. Just FYI, this bit of trivia is already noted at Sweeney Todd (musical) in the Performance History section. -- RayBirks 14:49, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Much appreciated RayBirks. I didn't think to look at the "musical" portion of the Sweeney Todd entry. This question is driving me crazy too. The movie centered around a pre-adolescent boy who was obsessed with this particular character. It was very well done. I really dont think it was this Ben Affleck picture. CMI —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

A 15th century precursor and a 17th century precursor of Sweeney Todd[edit]

This whole entry needs rewriting to accommodate the discovery by the blogger Kalebeul of a 17th century precursor of Sweeney Todd. In particular the description around 1691 of a demon barber in Calais is clear evidence that Peter Haining's book is nonsense. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:20, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

Jaume Roig is one of the most important medieval Catalan language writers and talks in his novel L'Espill a story about some female innkeepers that served men's meat in a restaurant. Deal with it, Shakespeare and Sweeny Todd. Some links that prove this: this Virginia University's translation of his book So, it is the first human meat serving restaurant in history's fiction. Also, as an extra there is a musicalization of the novel's fragment made by a famous Catalan language singer called Raimon. Here the link: --Hienafant (talk) 14:51, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

Monty Python's Barber?[edit]

Was this the basis for the Bloody Barber lead in to Monty Python's Lumber Jack song in Flying Circus? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Maschwab (talkcontribs) 06:20, 27 December 2006 (UTC).

Kinda seems like it, doesn't it? -- 22:54, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Seconded, it should be included if the Robot Chicken parody is listed 03:21, 2 November 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Johnny Depp Movie[edit]

I saw a poster for a Johnny Depp movie called Sweeny Todd —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:44, August 20, 2007 (UTC)

Yep, it's true. It comes out December 21, 2007 in the U.S., in case you didn't know. I'm majorly obsessed with this movie!NEHEHEHE!!!

"Weapon of choice?"[edit]

In the intro to this article it says that Sweeney's "weapon of choice was the straight razor." But, up until the Sondheim musical, wasn't Todd far more identifiable by his gimmicked barber's chair? In fact, quite a lot of the original source material doesn't have him cutting throats at all- rather, he tips the victims backwards so that their heads are bashed on the ground below. ChrisStansfield Contribs 18:58, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Dan and Jen?[edit]

What is this reference to? Has the page been defaced? There are two references to some Dan and Jen (in the beginning) and near the end that are not cited. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:54, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Dan and Jen is an adaptation which is being performed around colleges in the UK, (Dan plays the part of Sweeny Todd while Jen is Ms.Lovett). It has reacently been performed at Esher College, Hinchley Wood Sixth Form and Richmond College. However finding sources to reference is dificult, may I source the college or the college prospectus for this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

"The Sexiest Man Alive"[edit]

I just happened upon this article and read the following disgrace among the 'Adaptations' section :

"Tim Burton has directed a film adaptation of Sondheim's musical. It stars The Sexiest Man Alive as Sweeney Todd..."

Now "The Sexiest Man Alive" is a link to a page about the magazine 'People'. So upon following this link to find out who stars as Sweeney Todd, I am met with a page about a magazine which hosts a yearly vote about the sexiest man alive. But the current 'sexiest man' (Matt Damon) does not star as Sweeney Todd. So who is it? The list is over twenty names long! And why on Earth in an encyclopedia am I not given the answer to this, but instead sent to a ridiculously irrelevant article about a magazine?! So I hope no one minds that, after putting in the necessary research, I have edited the page to say plainly that it is in fact Johnny Depp who stars in this role. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kevoreilly (talkcontribs) 21:04, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I beg your pardon, but Johnny Depp was named "Sexiest Man Alive" as of 10/14/08. I don't read People magazine, but still, I agree that the person should have put "Johnny Depp" instead. (talk) 22:21, 12 February 2009 (UTC)


The new first paragraph under Early History contradicts other information in this article. Also this article makes no mention of the article that is often quoted in the Daily Courant and no mention of sources (Court records) of the other 'facts' mentioned in the first paragraph. Unfortunately various London Tourist tours quote as fact many things which are not verifiable or have been proved incorrect, but I think they should at least be mentioned in this article as existing viewpoints/unveriable 'facts' or disproven 'facts'/fiction - with of course verifiable reliable references, otherwise it looks as if this page just offers a single viewpoint. Most people reading this article will not bother to read the references I know, but as it stands unless they do they will get a very confusing idea of what is fiction and what is verifiable fact. (As a Londoner I know that many tourists visiting Baker street are convinced they have seen the genuine office of Sherlock Holmes...) Ray3055 (talk) 11:26, 14 January 2008 (UTC)


Why is such prominence given to Haining's theory that Todd was not a fictional character? I'm not saying that the article oughtn't to mention it at all, as there are independent sources which cover his maverick position; but having it in the leading paragraph and the overall level of discussion give undue weight on what is, after all, a minority opinion from a man who had no academic credentials. --Diagonal P. (talk) 22:08, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Maybe it has something to do with the last sentence in the lead paragraph though I have no idea what it may mean since it's cut off for some reason. Sake neko (talk) 10:24, 30 January 2008 (UTC)


Sweeney Todd - schweine Tot

Is the name Sweeney Todd a play on the German "schweine Tot". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:08, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Sweeney Todd Did Exist[edit]

I Don't Know Much But It's Been Found That There Was A Barber That Murder People With A RAzor And Use A Mechanical Chair And Most Of Them Ended Up In Mrs Lovett's Pies. It's Also An Attraction In The London Dugeons So It Must Be True Only True Things Are Put In There
AGREED! Historians debate on if Sweeney was real or not! We do know there was a church seperating the two shops,and dead bodies where found beneath both the church and Mr.Todd's supposed address. I DON'T KNOW WHO WROTE THIS WIKI PAGE BUT READ ALL THE FACTS!!! He may not be fictious but he may be... (talk) 21:07, 5 August 2010 (UTC) @1. Your space bar appears to be interfering with your shift key. hOPE tHIS hELPS. If you have real evidence for these claims, why not cite it? The main purpose of the London Dungeon is not to present historical fact but to separate tourists from their dollars (and no doubt to deliver shareholder value): even on the WP page you'll find the following quote: "Despite the Dungeons' claim to base their exhibits on historical fact, it is almost certain that Sweeney Todd never existed."

@2. Nor is the Daily Mail an authoritative source of Truth: they print what Middle England wants to hear (type "daily mail lies" into Google and see what it comes up with). So it's no surprise that the cited article is a topical piece cashing in on the film release, written by -- you guessed -- "° Peter Haining 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 xxxxxxx". No primary sources there. (talk)


The biography about the real Sweeney Todd seems maybe biased by the movie adaptation; at the very least, Mr. Todd should be referred to as such, and not as Mr. 'T' as in the movie. A real biography should be objectively removed from any fiction based on the person. Umma Kynes 08:40, 7 May 2008 (UTC) AGREED! Historians debate on if Sweeney was real or not! We do know there was a church seperating the two shops,and dead bodies where found beneath both the church and Mr.Todd's supposed address. I DON'T KNOW WHO WROTE THIS WIKI PAGE BUT READ ALL THE FACTS!!! He may not be fictious but he may be...

Backstory of Benjamin Barker[edit]

We all know that Benjamin Barker/Sweeney Todd was "shipped off to Australia" under false charges. Just to get specific, I was wondering if anyone knew under WHICH charges he was sent? As in: what was the crime he was supposedly charged for? It would be a good idea to incorporate into the article if anyone knew...with a source, that is. BlackPearl14Pirate Lord-ess 20:05, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I don't believe it's ever been mentioned at all. It's been a awful long time since I've seen the original, but I don't recall it being mentioned in it. Turpin could've applied anything to him; treason, theft, even murder. I'll do some more research on this to find some sources and information. Cheers, --Mizu onna sango15/Discuss 16:23, 25 June 2008 (UTC).
Good idea. I have a few contacts in broadway. Perhaps I can find out from Stephen Sondheim. BlackPearl14Pirate Lord-ess of the Caribbean 21:31, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
You can? That would be excellent. :-) Thanks, --Mizu onna sango15/Discuss 01:36, 30 June 2008 (UTC).
It's definitely not explicit in the Sondheim libretto - I just checked. (Todd: "Transported? What was his crime?" Mrs. Lovett: "Foolishness.") There were many many comparatively minor crimes for which he could have been transported in the mid-19th (though I imagine had the charge been treason or murder he would almost certainly have been hung rather than transported). Barnabypage (talk) 11:36, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, it was certainly not a part of the original script; that much I can recall. In that case, it's not only unknown but unverifiable (unless Sondheim reveals it in an interview, which seems unlikely), but just for curiosity's sake, if treason and murder would've surely merited hanging, what crime would warrant transportation to Australia? --Mizu onna sango15/Discuss 13:49, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Pickpocketing, poaching, theft, that sort of thing. Capital punishment was being used less for minor crimes, and transportation was replacing it. Barnabypage (talk) 14:19, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Hmm. That much I did not know (and I read Victorian History with a keen interest regularly); not for Sweeney Todd's decade (circa 1850?), per se. Thanks to everyone for all the useful information and input. --Mizu onna sango15/Discuss 14:26, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
Just to say that the original story, The String of Pearls, gives the date of the action as 1785 - in the reign of George III...Colin4C (talk) 17:21, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
True, but I was (mainly) referring to the Sondheim adaptation, B'way revivals and/or film. Thanks for the info, however. :D --Mizu onna sango15/Discuss 17:26, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Possible History[edit]

The claim that Haining is the only author who has ever claimed that the story of Sweeney Todd is true, is false. Several claims that the story is historical by persons other than Haining have been made since the 19th century. That these claims are probably false is immaterial. I have therefore restored better version and introduced some more material on this. Colin4C (talk) 20:28, 29 June 2008 (UTC)


read the post —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nysolow69 (talkcontribs) 09:10, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Yes, fictional. Haining is a worthy recipient of the Baron Munchausen award for shameless lying (previous winners: Pinocchio and Tony Blair). Haining also produced a fraudulent edition of the tale of Sweeney Todd which he credited to the playwright Hazelton but most likely cobbled together from another source(s) or wrote himself. Colin4C (talk) 11:24, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Picture of Tod Slaughter on page[edit]

Should there be a picture of Tod Slaughter as Sweeney on this page? User:Jet556 —Preceding undated comment was added at 18:31, 23 August 2008 (UTC) -- (talk) 16:11, 9 October 2008 (UTC)nnsx

I don't think so...Johnny Depp did the most recent (and well known) version, so I believe wheras a list of actors may be beneficial, Johnny may be the best known figure. (talk) 00:15, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Neither actor is the subject of the article. The ideal illustration would be an 1800s book illustration or theatre poster. Otherwise, why the compulsion to have a picture at all for mere decoration? Most people, myself included, have never heard of Johnny Depp. Cheers Bjenks (talk) 01:17, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

article gives away climax of sondheim's adamtation[edit]

too bad climax of sondheim's adaptation version is given away in article ("sondheim's adapation" section). isn't there a "spoiler alert" feature on wikipedia?-- (talk) 21:04, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

producer/distributor/broadcaster of 1982 video production[edit]

article states (in "on stage and screen" section) "In 1982, the musical was televised on The Entertainment Channel, starring Lansbury and George Hearn, and directed by Terry Hughes and Harold Prince."

i didn't have E!, The Entertainment Channel (or its predecessor Movietime) in 1982 on my then cable system "TelePrompTer"). i watched it on either "Showtime" or perhaps (its predecessor called i think) "Uptown" here in upper Manhattan (above 86th Street on the East Side) of New York City. i see that imdb (at credits "The Entertainment Channel" as "distributor" but they most likely were not the airer/televisor. i clearly saw it on Showtime as a special sunday evening "appointment tv" event with dinner parties happening about town. downtown people made friends with upper-manhattan friends to make sure they could see it. i have the vhs i made that night in my archives...somewhere. -- (talk) 21:44, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Good Eats Episode[edit]

I am unsure why this would be considered trivial. This was not a passing reference or a skit, but an entire epsiode crafted to use the Sweeney Todd story to present meat pie recipes. Would it be better if I made it celar it was not merely a spoof, but performed entirely in character using the Sweeney Todd story?

sherpajohn (talk) 01:48, 13 April 2009 (UTC)


There should be a template for Sweeney Todd. Ryanmalik01 (talk) 16:14, 16 May 2009 (UTC)Ryanmalik01Ryanmalik01 (talk) 16:14, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Expansion and a less Bias article towards the fictional alternate?[edit]

Hi, it seems to me that the Sweeney Todd article is very much biased in favor of him being a fictional character. It boldly claims in the introduction that "Sweeney Todd is a "fictional" Character...' It then goes on to proclaim the "alleged" claims of him being a real character which is given a comparitively small section here. It cannot be claimed in either way when one version has obvious bias that Toddd was either real or fictional, as there will never be any way to absolutely prove it one way or the other. No mention in the article is given to the excavated human remains found beneath the area his shop is claimed to have been. The article doesn't make the argument that the public were apparently outraged at the crimes and therevfore the possibility the Newgate Calender purposefully left the crimes off it's list, as it is fact that the Newgate Calender doesn't have every crime in it that it is claimed to. This article is currently in my opinion a bit of a biased killjoy at the moment. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:32, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

The Truth or Fiction of Todd: The End[edit]

Although unaware of this particular forum or of these discussions until very recently, I must confess myself surprised and quite frankly and genuinely astounded to discover that these sorts of "debates" with regards to the barber's story had still -- anywhere, by anyone, any longer -- been pursued with any degree of seriousness or partisan contention. I feel compelled consequently to weigh in on this issue, and on this site, rather late in the day, although it yet remains, after all, always worth underscoring the truth of such matters whenever it is possible to do so.

All reasonably intrepid or willingly informed and open-minded individuals will necessarily and for quite some time now have been compelled to admit -- or they will perforce and at worst grudgingly acknowledge themselves otherwise simply to have been convinced not only by the incontrovertible weight of evidence in the existing historical and literary documents, but also by the sustained and definitive exposure of those journalistic charlatans and amateur enthusiasts who throughout the twentieth century maintained or advanced patently false accounts of the supposed activities of "Sweeney Todd" in the eighteenth century (or, for that matter, in the nineteenth century, depending on the particular fantasist in whom one might misguidedly -- if with the best of intentions -- have placed one's faith) that Todd's story is a fictional one. There is no debate to be had on this subject.

It was in fact due almost exclusively, in the latter decades of the last century at least, to a peculiar insistence on the part of one Peter Haining -- himself a Fleet Street journalist, whose instincts as a reporter really ought to have served him better -- that Todd's myth ever perpetuated as long as it did. (Although Haining himself appears finally to have realized that he was in fact mistaken in his beliefs, he remained peculiarly reluctant actually to admit any such misconception, or to relinquish his fond hopes that the story might somehow have a basis in "fact". His only real culpability -- and the damage inflicted, as it were -- lay ultimately in the manner in which he quite brazenly made use of what he must certainly have known to be obviously fictional material, and offered that same material, in print, to his readers instead as genuine evidence of record, relating to a tale he knew to be "fraudulent".) One could no more convincingly maintain that "Jack the Ripper", say, was a "fictional" story or phenomenon concocted by the Metropolitan Police, on the one hand, than one could yet similarly if conversely argue that "Sweeney Todd", on the other, had himself been a historical figure. It would, indeed, be in no way disrespectful to go so far as to point out that those who might in fact BE so inclined as still to maintain the latter position -- i.e., those who would insist on or assert the historical veracity, or even allow for the mere possibility of there being any historical basis whatsoever for the extended Todd narrative in the face of veritable mountains of quite clear and easy to comprehend evidence to the contrary -- might most kindly be described as subscribing to conspiracy theories of a most dramatically extreme and fantastical nature; they might perhaps more genuinely and seriously be recognized as individuals who were yet in the grips of pathological difficulties when it came simply to distinguishing appearance from reality, fiction from fantasy, or history from stories and the stuff of make-believe, both in this instance, and perhaps even elsewhere in their lives. "Sweeney Todd" is no more a historically "real" a personage than is Lemuel Gulliver, Peter Pan, or Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit. Again, any debate on the subject is simply NOT even moot, or open to any further discussion.

For those who remain interested in Todd and his story (or anyone more intrigued by works such as Stephen Sondheim's amazing use of that story in his 1979 musical) there are a great many productive avenues of inquiry and study yet available to be pursued. If intrigued by the myth of "Sweeney Todd" as a fictional character, those who might otherwise waste their time vainly searching for some item or scrap of "proof" of a "life" that cannot possibly be found (because, again, not to put to fine a point on it, "he" was never "alive" to begin with), would much more profitably turn their attentions to more fascinating subjects, such as why any person or any society, when confronted with such tales, would ever wish them to be true to begin with, or refuse to believe them to be false, even when they had been proven to be false beyond any possible, reasonable doubt. The desire to persist in a mistaken belief in the narrative (as opposed to the conceivably figurative or allegorical or symbolic) "truth" of such tales would seem to have a great deal more to say about the health and obsessions of those societies that sustain them as such, than it would about the inherent features or artistic possibilities to be mined or extracted and crafted from within such tales themselves. Rlmackex (talk) 11:24, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Rlmackex (talkcontribs) 21:07, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

WP:TLDR Don't suppose we could have some paragraph breaks there? --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 21:22, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
But apart from that, Mrs. Rlmackex, how did you enjoy the show? Barnabypage (talk) 21:39, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
Phew!!!! I take it you reckon he IS fictional? Reminds me of the Irishman who praised a speaker of Irish Gaelic - "Sure and he spoke such fine Irish not a wan of us understood more than three words t'gither!!" My old mother (born well within the sound of Bow Bells) was quite sure Todd was "true", and told me the tale as fact - and all this long before Haining too! I think we can quietly agree that "debate" on the subject has long ceased to be profitable. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:08, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Parody of Sweeny Todd on 'The Simpsons'[edit]

In the Season 21 Episode 04 , as a vignette, to the play, Treehouse_of_Horror_XX The Simpsons clan perform the play to Moe's Brewery. It also forms part of the episode "Treehouse of Horrors XXI", where the guests on a ship eat mincemeat pies that are tainted with the meat of the dispatched victims. Richard416282 (talk) 18:34, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

More relevant from the Simpsons to here than vice versa perhaps? This is such a pervasive part of London folklore that if we started to pile up allusions in other media we could easily go on forever. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:11, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps, but the world does not begin or end in London, UK, However since "The Simpsons" have managed to cross the pond, and are seen globally this was only an improvement in education. There may be some in the world who are not familiar with the story of "Sweeny Todd", and the associated play, that the link was included here. Richard416282 (talk) 22:24, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
That may well be an argument, as I said above, to include a link FROM the Simpsons article to here! (Is there one, by the way?). Certainly doesn't apply in the other direction though. It tells us nothing whatever about Sweeney Todd (the character) - which remains the subject of this article - that the Simpsons have parodied a version of the story, possibly through the film version of the musical - although it may (or may not) be a relevant comment about the Simpsons that their reach has extended this far. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:32, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

The "French Sweeney"[edit]

We just can't use Wikipedia (even in another language) as a reference for a Wikipedia article (classic circular citation). I did however look up our article for Paul Féval - cited as a reference by a recent editor - and identified him as a French novelist, and the book concerned as a collection of horror stories called La Vampire, written in 1865. I honestly don't think this gives any credence whatsoever to a notion that there was a "real" French Sweeney in the 14th century. I have re-written this paragraph rather than just deleting it, as it IS interesting (and as far as it goes, authentic, in that Féval really wrote this account, albeit in 1865 and as a work of fiction) although I wonder if it really belongs in the "In Literature" section??

I also very much suspect that the earlier reference to a French Sweeny, allegedly from "a publication called The Tell Tale" is actually also based on Féval. But I have, for the moment at least, assumed it is basically genuine, while slightly "qualifying" the text. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 10:48, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

A little later, especially after checking the (irrelevant or spurious) references of the alleged "1824" version I have cut this altogether, and substituted an edit version of my earlier version of the Féval version. Hope this won't be felt to be too "bold". --Soundofmusicals (talk) 11:35, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

That lead!!![edit]

The lead, after much mangling and reverting of unconstructive rubbish, was a right dogs' dinner. I have edited it down to something a bit less than a substitute for a complete article. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:20, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

This is NOT repeat NOT repeat NOT the article about the musical.[edit]

The musical has its own article at Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (musical) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE (and Pretty please) - go to that article for matter specific to the musical (such as the detailed plot according to the libretto of the musical, for instance. READ this article from top to bottom, and see if you can work out roughly what it is about BEFORE editing it - especially before complaining of "vicious vandalising" by people why (quite rightly) delete your "work". --Soundofmusicals (talk) 08:30, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

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