Tapestry

The Road to Ruin: The Sordid Tale of Sinful Sally

She was a good girl, raised by a good family. But one day she was seduced by a man and her life soon fell to ruin. The tale of Sinful Sally was circulated through London 150 years ago as a way of curtailing women's behaviour... and its effects endure today.
(Julton Archive/Getty Images)

She started so pure and innocent. She was a good girl, raised by a good family. But one day she was seduced by a man and heard the bells of London calling. One bad mistake led to another... and the young woman's life was quickly laid to waste.

Click here to read the whole, sordid tale of Sinful Sally as it appears in the original pamphlet, complete with illustrations.

(William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University)

The Story of Sinful Sally was printed as a cheap repository pamphlet. It cost just a penny or two and was circulated throughout London 150 years ago as a way of curtailing women's behaviour.

The story seems a little heavy-handed by today's standards, but according to historian Jessica Steinberg, the story continues to influence contemporary ideas around issues like poverty, women's rights and prostitution.

Click LISTEN to hear readings from the Story of Sinful Sally. 

This segment originally aired October 30, 2015. 


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