James and John: A True Story of Prejudice and Murder with Chris Bryant

Talk Special Event
  • Venue


  • Time

    7:00 PM

  • Price

    £7.00 - £8.00 plus booking fee

  • Book Tickets

Join us for a gripping evening with Chris Bryant in conversation with Hannah MacInnes unravels the chilling tale of "James and John: A True Story of Prejudice and Murder

In the condemned cells at the infamous prison at Newgate, London, seventeen men who had been sentenced to death were awaiting news of their pleas for mercy. Two men were particularly striking: James Pratt and John Smith. They had been arrested after a neighbour claimed to have seen them acting ‘inappropriately’ while spying on them through a keyhole.

Theirs was ‘an unnatural offence’, a crime so unmentionable it was never named. The 1830s ushered in great change in Britain. In a few short years the government swept away slavery, rotten boroughs, child labour, bribery and corruption in elections, the ban on trades unions and civil marriage. They also curtailed the ‘bloody code’ that treated 200 petty crimes as capital offences. There had not been a hanging at Newgate for two years; hundreds were reprieved. Yet when the King met with his ‘hanging’ Cabinet, they decided to reprieve all bar James and John. When the two men were led to the gallows, the crowd hissed and shouted.

In James and John, published during LGBT+ History Month 2024, Chris Bryant weaves a gripping narrative history, delving deep into the public archives, scouring poor law records, workhouse registers, prisoner calendars and private correspondence, to meticulously recreate the lives and trial of two men whose names are known to history – but whose story has been lost, until now.

Sir Chris Bryant MP has been the Member of Parliament for Rhondda since 2001. He was Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Europe in the last Labour government, and has been Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. The author of six previous books, he has written regularly for the Guardian and the Independent, and has appeared on every major TV and radio news and current affairs programme. He was the first gay MP to celebrate his civil partnership in the Palace of Westminster and was knighted in the 2023 New Year Honours for political and public service.

Hannah MacInnes is a Broadcaster and Journalist. She presents frequently on Times Radio and currently hosts the How To Academy’s live programme and podcast. With a passion for tackling global issues facing society today, she has written articles and conducted interview pieces for Radio Times, the Evening Standard and the TLS.

Her brilliantly engaged voice on issues ranging from climate change to literary heroines is underpinned by a doggedly diligent work ethic in her research, facilitating an always curious, fresh, exciting and above all relatable approach to topics on air, on the page and on screen. Eight years as a Planning Editor at BBC Newsnight, where she was also a Producer and Filmmaker, have given her an extensive knowledge and fantastic perspective on the best way to engage an audience of any demographic on any topic.

These skills have taken her across the country to host at major literary events, conferences and debates on pressing world issues such as the environment & farming, Brexit, the economy, gender equality, comedy, literature & culture. Engaging in enthralling ‘fireside chat style’ interviews, Hannah has had in-depth conversations with the likes of Bill Clinton, Melinda Gates, Madeleine Albright, Jeremy Hunt, Ed Miliband, Rory Stewart, Dame Jane Goodhall, Louis Theroux, Russel Brand, Philip Pullman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sean Penn, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Nadiya Hussein, Dolly Alderton and Mike Leigh.

This event is in-person only and will not be streamed or recorded. Doors will open at 6.45pm Copies of James and John: A True Story of Prejudice and Murder will be available to purchase on the evening.