14th June 2019

Bonnier Books UK acquires true story of notorious Peaky Blinders

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Bonnier Books UK acquires true story of notorious Peaky Blinders

Kelly Ellis, publishing director for adult non-fiction at Bonnier Books UK, acquired world all language rights to Peaky Blinders: The Real Story directly from author and social historian Carl Chinn.

Peaky Blinders: The Real Story is a fascinating insight into the true story behind Birmingham’s most notorious gang. The charismatic but deeply flawed Shelby family are infamous for blinding enemies by slashing them with the razor blades stitched into the peaks of their flat caps.

“Their violent actions are as inextricably bound up with the city and its history … [It] is an important story to be told and so I am excited that Peaky Blinders: The Real Story is to be published by Bonnier Books UK.”

Carl Chinn

Social historian Carl Chinn has spent decades searching out and researching the Peaky Blinders — one of whom was his own great-grandfather. Like the Shelbys, his grandfather was an illegal bookmaker in the back-streets of Birmingham in the 1920s. In this gripping new book, Chinn shines a light on the rarely reported struggles of the working class in one of the great cities of the British Empire before the World War One.

Chinn continues the story after 1918 as some members of the Peaky Blinders transformed into the vicious and violent Birmingham Gang, led by Billy Kimber. The Birmingham Gang fought a bloody war with the London gangsters Darby Sabini and Alfie Solomon over lucrative protection rackets, extorting money from bookmakers across the booming post-war racecourses of Britain.

Drawing together a remarkably wide-range of original sources, including rarely seen images of real Peaky Blinders and interviews with relatives of the 1920s gangsters, Peaky Blinders: The Real Story adds a new dimension to the true history of Birmingham’s underworld.

“We’re all beyond excited to be publishing this book … With Peaky Blinders’ blood running in his veins, Carl offers fans a truly authentic immersion into the murky, yet often colourful world, of the most ruthless gangs Britain has ever seen.” 

Kelly Ellis, Publishing Director for Adult Non-Fiction, Bonnier Books UK

Author Carl Chinn said: “The Peaky Blinders of Birmingham legend have become a world-wide sensation, but it is vital to understand the realities behind the dramatised gangsters. Real Peaky Blinders were unsavoury, unglamorous and unworthy of respect. Yet reprehensible as they were, they were major figures in late Victorian and Edwardian Birmingham. Ignored or mentioned merely in passing in studies of the city, the Peaky Blinders blighted the lives of thousands of citizens for a generation and more and tarnished Birmingham’s reputation. Their violent actions are as inextricably bound up with the city and its history as are those of its leading politicians and great manufactures. That is an important story to be told and so I am excited that Peaky Blinders: The Real Story is to be published by Bonnier Books UK.”

Kelly Ellis, publishing director for adult non-fiction for Bonnier Books UK, said: “Carl is the world’s number one authority on the Peaky Blinders and more broadly the history of Birmingham’s criminal networks. His passion for his work is so infectious — we’re all beyond excited to be publishing this book which has been a lifetime in the making for its author. With Peaky Blinders’ blood running in his veins, Carl offers fans a truly authentic immersion into the murky, yet often colourful world, of the most ruthless gangs Britain has ever seen.” 

Peaky Blinders: The Real Story will be published on 19  September 2019 under the John Blake Publishing imprint.

About Carl Chinn

Professor Carl Chinn MBE PhD is a writer, public speaker, teacher and social historian with a national profile. An off-course bookmaker himself until 1984, he is the son and grandson of illegal bookmakers in Sparkbrook and the great-grandson of a Peaky Blinder. His mother’s family were factory workers in Aston. His writings are deeply affected by his family’s working-class background and life in the back-to-backs of Birmingham, and a passionate believer in the democratisation of history.