This week saw the release of The Demon Barber, my 64th published story and first contribution to the Doctor Who project. In 1998 members of the Telefantasy Appreciation Society of Canada began planning their own version of Doctor Who, releasing their first story in January the following year. Around the same time, I read a biography of Sweeney Todd by Peter Haining, who also wrote several Doctor Who books. For years I believed that Todd was a real person, until I realized that there was no evidence of his existence.
A myth which probably began with jokes about the contents of meat pies, immortalized a character in fiction, plays, musicals and films. Haining’s book is still misleadingly classed as non-fiction. I find this annoying, believing that boundaries between fiction and fact should at least be acknowledged.
Doctor Who is full of fiction about historical characters, even mentioning Sweeney Todd. I am pleased to expand on that reference speculating, like Haining, that the Demon Barber of Fleet Street was real.
Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction best known for his Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia.