With Tom Hardy playing both Ronnie and Reggie Kray in the recent movie Legend, there’s never been a better time to catch up on your London gangland reading. The young boxers-turned-crime-bosses dominated headlines in 1960s London, mingling with celebrities and underworld leaders alike, collecting protection money and murdering anyone who got in their way. Here are five must-read books all about the terrible twins.
The profession of violence, by John Pearson
The Krays commissioned Pearson to write the biography of their gangland exploits in the late 1960s. By the time it came out in 1972, they were already behind bars, imprisoned for life for two gruesome murders. Pearson lays bare the criminal exploits of London’s favourite gangsters and details how they went from crime kings to life without parole.
Bringing down the Krays, by Bobby Teale
Bobby Teale, along with his two brothers, was a close friend of the Krays and one of the most trusted members of their gang, The Firm. But their increasingly wild and dangerous behaviour pushed him away, and he became a police informant, fleeing the country when his information put them behind bars. This book reveals all the shocking things that no one else had the courage to tell, and shows the true, sadistic nature of Ronnie and Reggie.
Our story, by Reg & Ron Kray
Though their brutal career of crime and violence ended when they were sentenced to life in 1969, Reggie and Ronnie didn’t sit back and do their time quietly. Their time in prison was spent doing interviews, talking to reporters, selling their own memorabilia, and making money. This book was compiled from a series of in-depth interviews they gave during their time inside.
The Krays and me, by Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson was a minor criminal in the 1970s, but he gained a fearsome national reputation for his wild, unprovoked violence in the prison system. He idolised the Krays, and befriended them during one of his many prison sentences, becoming, as he said, their most trusted friend behind bars. This is the story of those many years he spent “doing porridge” with the Krays.
Inside the firm, by Tony Lambrianou
The story of the Krays from one of their gang members, a man who did 15 years in prison for his part in the murders that put the twins away for life. Tony Lambrianou was there from the beginning, rising through the ranks of the London underworld to rule it alongside the Krays in the swinging 60s, and he knew better than anyone what they were capable of.
Bonus: Roberta Kray
Did you know that crime novelist Roberta Kray is Reggie Kray’s wife? They met when she was interviewing him in prison for a news story and married in 1997. She has 15 crime novels published as well as a biography of her late husband.