Sunday, 19 November 2017

Fact Meets Fiction: Jessie Eden and Peaky Blinders, Part 2

In episode four of season three of Peaky Blinders, there was a mention of Jessie Eden, the real-life Birmingham trade unionist and communist who made her name during the 1926 General Strike. I had previously blogged about this fact meeting fiction moment here, and saw that post gaining much traction in the last fortnight. Well, now I know why: Jessie Eden has become a regular character in the show, making her debut in the season four opening episode which was broadcast on Wednesday. 

Jessie Eden is played by Irish actress Charlie Murphy and her appearance has sparked a lot of interest in the real Jessie, as evinced by articles at Den of Geek and The Guardian, the latter of which features an interview with her daughter-in-law Andrea McCulloch, who had previously posted a message on my earlier blog post.

I was already looking forward to this new season but now, having watched the nail biting first episode and seen Murphy's performance as Eden, I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out even more! It's worth pointing out though that, as with the mention of Eden in the last series, writer/creator Steven Knight is playing fast and loose with history once more: Season four commences on Christmas, 1925 and at this point in her life, Jessie Shrimpton (as she was then known, Shrimpton being her maiden name) was only a shop steward of a small number of unionised members rather than the union leader they are depicting her as - that came much later, in 1931, when she led thousands of women out on a week long strike.

Still, it's good to see both an aspect of social and cultural history and a significant figure in trade union history be given the spotlight they have been unfairly kept away from for so long.

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