14th December 2015

Meet Netley Lucas, Prince of Tricksters—royal biographer, best-selling crime writer, and gentleman crook. In the years after the Great War, Lucas becomes infamous for climbing the British social ladder by his expert trickery—his changing names and telling of tales. An impudent young playboy and a confessed confidence trickster, he finances his far-flung hedonism through fraud and false pretences.

‘Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook’ is a book about a confidence trickster and a crisis of confidence that pervaded British culture in the 1920s and 1930s. Matt Houlbrook will present texts and research materials from this work in a workshop considering the difficulties in history writing when our sources and subjects are elusive and changeable. What are the everyday difficulties of knowing who or what to trust and how they become particularly marked (or marked in particular ways) at certain historical moments?

Matt Houlbrook is a writer and Senior Historian in Modern British History at the University of Birmingham. His work investigates British cultural history, with particular interest in histories of gender, sexuality and selfhood. This builds on his earlier research which explored the relationship between city, social practice and sexual identity — how modern urban culture shaped the ways in which men and women experienced and organised their sexual practices. His latest book ‘Prince of Tricksters’ will be published by Chicago Press in 2016. His earlier work includes ‘Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis’ which won the Longman-History Today Book Award in 2006, the Royal Historical Societies Whitefield Prize in 2005, and a Commendable Mention at the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Gay and Lesbian Book Awards.