Eloise Moss (Oxford) Past & Present Fellow

Rooftop Robbers and the Real-Life Raffles: Burglary and the Making of Modern Urban Life, London 1860-1968

Eloise recently completed her DPhil (AHRC) at the University of Oxford, supervised by Dr Matt Houlbrook. Her thesis examined how burglary and burglars in London were defined in popular and official discourse between 1860 and 1939, analysing how these definitions were shaped by the commercial interests of the entertainment, insurance, and security industries. It showed that representations of burglars in advertising and other media cultivated both fear and admiration at burglars’ skill; the latter constituting a ‘pleasure culture’ about the crime. Through juxtaposing this material against evidence from over 900 court reports, Eloise’s thesis demonstrated how these conflicting attitudes forced urban residents to redress the security and organisation of their homes and fundamentally altered state governance of urban space. The thesis thus emphasised the marketplace as the terrain where crime reshaped the daily interaction between state and citizen, engineering the birth of the surveillance society. Eloise’s postdoctoral research expands this study: by interrogating correspondence between police transnationally about new practices of regulating burglary; by considering accounts of juvenile burglars at reformatory schools and in children’s fiction; and by extending its chronological scope to 1968, when burglary was no longer delineated a ‘night-time’ crime in law (central to how the crime was sexualised and penalized).


‘How I had liked this villain! How I had admired him!’: A.J. Raffles and the Burglar as Transnational British Icon, 1898-1939. Accepted for publication by Journal of British Studies; forthcoming 2014.

‘Burglary Insurance and the Culture of Fear in Britain, c. 1889-1939,’ Historical Journal, 54:4 (December 2011), pp. 1039-1064.

Book Review: ‘William Meier, Property Crime in London 1850-present (London, 2011),’ Contemporary British History, 26:3 (June 2012), pp. 437-439.

Magazine article: ‘Burglar Bill: Researching historical geographies of crime and governance at the London Metropolitan Archives,’ London Metropolitan Archives Newsletter 6 (August 2011).

Seminar and Publication updates: http://oxford.academia.edu/EloiseMoss