Prest, Thomas Peckett

13 May 1810? - 5 June 1859

Prolific English magazine editor and, primarily, writer of knock-off novels (he penned a number of lowbrow adaptations of Dickens' works) and of "penny dreadfuls," those inexpensive shocker novels of the mid C19; Prest is best known for being regarded as the author of Varney the Vampire, although he probably isn't, or at the very least isn't the sole author — the evidence is good that James Malcolm Rymer is to blame, either wholly or in part — and for creating "Sweeney Todd," the demon barber popularized in Stephen Sondheim's musical (based on the book by Hugh Wheeler, based on the 1847 melodrama by George Dibdin Pitt which was based on Prest's 1846 The String of Pearls) — though here again there are some who think Rymer may have had much more to do with creating Todd than did Prest.

Sites:
Brief biographical note
[Wikipedia]
"Penny Bloods and the Demon Barber"
Good discussion of the rise of penny dreadfuls and Prest's involvment with them, including brief discussion of Varney and its authorship. [David Carroll, Tabula Rasa]


Etexts:
The Demon of the Hartz
- at HorrorMasters [PDF]

Varney the Vampire
- at Humphrey Liu's site
- at Project Gutenberg
- at UVa's Extext Center: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3

Vileroy; or, The Horrors of Zindorf Castle
The etext of work was originally created and posted online by Justin Gilbert. His site has since disappeared, so I've taken the liberty of 'rescuing' the etext from possible oblivion, courtesy of the good folks at The Wayback Machine. The etext remains in its original format except for the addition of missing navigational links at the bottom of many of the files.
- at LitGothic


Essays and Reviews:
Suicide in Varney the Vampire
A Victorian Web extract from Barbara T. Gates' Victorian Suicide: Mad Crimes and Sad Histories (Princeton UP, 1988)

"Thomas Peckett Prest."