Friday, March 20, 2009

Diver Down

It's consistently making me happy when the Forgotten English calendar that my dear husband bought for me for Christmas coincides with my writing life. And this week was no exception.

A word coming up was "diver" and it wasn't used for boards or underwater swimming. No, it was slang for a pickpocket.

Now, I happen to have a pickpocket as the main character in my current work in progress. So I knew the word already, based on research. What I hadn't known was that one of England's most innovative thieves and master of disguise...well...should have been called the mistress of disguise.

Mary Young, aka Jenny Diver, was quite the pickpocket and conwoman. Her most famous technique was to wear an ornate outfit with two artificial arms and "pregnancy bump", go to church, sit with the rich folks, and pick the pockets of those praying around her.

She was caught eventually, and hanged, but she had a measure of fame. And not just in her time. In addition to being included in John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera", she was also referred to in the Bobby Darin hit, "Mack the Knife". What a fascinating woman.

It's taking a great deal of self-control for me not to read ahead in the calendar. But it's probably better to come upon these little gems one at a time. After all, too much greed can get a girl hanged.

J.M. Grant

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Anonymous WKEverhart said...

Where can I get that calendar? :D I'll read ahead for both of us!

March 23, 2009 at 8:04 PM  

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