FACTBOX: Glasgow's gangland novel "No Mean City"

Tue Jan 5, 2010 8:23am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters Life!) - Three quarters of a century since novel "No Mean City" immortalized the savage life of a razor-wielding Glasgow street fighter, Scotland's biggest city remains one of the most violent in western Europe.

First published on October 28, 1935, the book has sold well over half a million copies and has rarely, if ever, been out of print. The title -- an excerpt from the Bible -- became a byword for Glasgow, where it provokes strong feelings to this day.

"No book is more associated with the city of Glasgow than No Mean City," the latest edition boasts on its cover.

Following are five facts about the book.

For a story, double click on

* The book tells the story of "Razor King" Johnnie Stark, who remains a figure of fascination for criminal elements in Glasgow's underworld to this day, according to locals from the Gorbals, the district where No Mean City is set.

Though the razor gangs have disappeared, knives are a bigger killer in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain, in great part due to gang violence in Glasgow. Some 55 homicides were committed with a sharp instrument in Scotland last year, more than a fifth of the total in England and Wales -- even though their combined population is more than ten times that of Scotland.

* Some bookshops and libraries refused to stock the book when it came out. However, the reception was not only negative.

The Glasgow Evening Times accused the authors of branding the city a collection of "thugs and harlots."   Continued...