Sweeney Todd is the quintessential “penny dreadful.” Is there anyone with a fondness for horror that isn’t familiar with the urban legend that is Sweeney Todd?
The notorious Demon Barber has been called 'the worst mass murderer in English history'.
Despite being as notorious in London's history as Jack The Ripper, Todd's story has been almost completely ignored by historians.
The legend of Sweeney Todd is based on the (possibly) real-life 19th-century serial killer/barber who slit the throats of his victims; upon which his accomplice Mrs. Lovett would dispose of the evidence by grinding up the bodies, baking them in her meat pies and selling them to an unsuspecting public.
Published anonymously in England’s People’s Periodical and Family ran in 18-weekly installments from November 1846 to March 1847.
With the aid of an ingenious revolving chair and a cut-throat razor, he is said to have robbed and butchered over 160 victims in his barber shop in Fleet Street, before taking the remains to nearby Bell Yard, where his accomplice, Margery Lovett, cooked their flesh for her meat pies.
Did it happen?
Was it real?
No one knows for sure if Sweeney Todd actually existed, but this timeless tale has taken on a life of its own. It has not been out of print since 1846 and has been the subject of numerous stage, radio, television and film adaptations.