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Welcome to my world

Murder Ballads
Secret London

Paul Slade Hello. My name's Paul Slade, and I've been a journalist here in London since 1982. During that time, I've written for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times, Mojo, Fortean Times, The Idler, Time Out and a host of other publications. In 2005, I started making occasional documentaries for BBC Radio 4, covering subjects like a forgotten radio hoax of 1926 and the craze for "dirty blues" lyrics in pre-war America.

I've developed a taste for writing long essays, a form very few magazines will consider buying

Like any hack who's been working for that length of time, I've accumulated a fair number of pet projects over the years. These are subjects which I've become passionately interested in myself but which, for one reason or another, I've never managed to sell as a commercial proposition. It doesn't help matters that I've recently developed a taste for writing longer essays - running anywhere up to 15,000 words in length - which is a form very few modern magazines are prepared to consider.
Hence this website. Here you'll find my guide to some of the world's most fascinating Murder Ballads, a series of Secret London's forgotten mysteries and, in the section I've cunningly titled Miscellany, anything else I damn well feel like including. My aim is to combine the old-fashioned virtues of traditional journalism - proper research, clear writing and a habit of checking my facts - with the global distribution and ease of access which only the internet can provide. I hope you find something here to take your interest.

- Paul Slade, London, April 2009


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Added in Sept 2014: Burke & Hare Ballads

This yearís Edinburgh Festival Fringe included a Burke & Hare day discussing all aspects of that unlovely pairís 16-corpse career.
      My contribution was a talk on Burke & Hare ballad sheets, presented with accompanying slides, and Iíve now adapted that talk to form PlanetSladeís latest essay.
      Researching this piece allowed me to uncover lots of fascinating Victorian gallows ballad sheets Iíd never seen before. Youíll find lots of good gory stuff there, and some unexpected laughs too.
      Because this material was originally written as a talk rather than an essay, Iíve also re-voiced it for a YouTube slideshow, which youíll find here. Both versions end with a few exclusive bonus slides just for PlanetSlade readers.
      Steve Byrne of the great Scottish folk band Malinky closed my talk with his own rendition of the 1829 Burke & Hare ballad Poor Daft Jamie. You can hear a live recording of Steveís performance at the end of the YouTube presentation or on this SoundCloud page.
      Lots to enjoy, then, and it all starts here:

Print essay

YouTube slideshow

Poor Daft Jamie live.