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When these three volumes first appeared in 1883 they were regarded as the best modern history of English criminal law ever. Stephen was ""hampered at every page by the absence of any authoritative statement of the law"" to which he could refer, he set about constructing just that.
James Fitzjames Stephen, the author, was greatly influenced by the writings of John Austin and Jeremy Bentham. As a practising lawyer and judge, it is the insights gained from his own experience that give an added practical dimension to this work.
As well as his accounts of the history of the branches of the law, Stephen gives fascinating analyses of famous trials, and explores the relation of madness to crime and the relation of law to ethics, physiology, and mental philosophy. His discussion also includes the subjects of Criminal responsibility Offences against the state The criminal jurisdiction of the Privy Council Libel Indian criminal law Offences against religion.
1996 Reprint of the 1883 Macmillan edition.