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An escaped python in Middlesbrough is stoned to death by boys. A woman lives with her husband’s decomposing corpse to keep claiming his pension. A pistol-packing theatre-goer shoots the baddie in a play. A drunken monkey goes berserk in a bar. A man covered in bees moves gingerly through central London.

These are the stories that enthralled and appalled Victorian readers in the newspapers of the age. Some of them are funny. Some are sad; some desperately so. A few of them are bonkers. Virtually all of them are completely forgotten, even in the very places they played out.

They’re all in The Burglar Caught By A Skeleton by Jeremy Clay, which is the fruit of an unhealthy fixation with the British Library’s splendid British Newspaper Archive.