The String of Pearls: A Romance is the title of a story first published as a penny part serial 1846-47.

The main antagonist of the story is the infamous Sweeney Todd, "the Demon Barber of Fleet Street", who here makes his literary debut. Todd is a barber who murders his customers and turns their remains into meat pies, sold at the pie shop of his partner in crime: Mrs. Lovett. Todd's barber shop is situated in Fleet Street, London, next to St. Dunstan's church, and is connected to Mrs. Lovett's pie shop in nearby Bell Yard by means of an underground passage. Todd dispatches his victims by pulling a lever while they are in his barber chair, which makes them fall backward down a revolving trapdoor, generally causing them to break their necks or skulls. Just in case they are alive, he goes to the basement and "polishes them off", meaning he slits their throats with his straight razor. Todd has a young assistant named Tobias Ragg. Synopsis (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_String_of_Pearls) The story is set in London in the year 1785. The plot concerns the strange disappearance of a sailor named Lieutenant Thornhill, last seen entering Sweeney Todd's establishment on Fleet Street. Thornhill was bearing a gift of a string of pearls to a girl named Johanna Oakley on behalf of her missing lover Mark Ingestrie, who is presumed lost at sea. One of Thornhill's seafaring friends, Colonel Jeffrey, is alerted to the disapperance of Thornhill by his faithful dog, Hector, and investigates his whereabouts. He is joined by Johanna, who wants to know what happened to her lover, Mark Ingestrie. Johanna's suspicions of Sweeney Todd's involvement lead her to the desperate and dangerous expedient of dressing up as a boy and entering Todd's employment, after his last assistant, Tobias Ragg, has been incarcerated in a madhouse. Eventually, the full grisly horror of Todd's activities are uncovered when the dismembered remains of hundreds of his victims are discovered in the crypt underneath St. Dunstan's church. Meanwhile. Mark Ingestrie, who has been imprisoned in the cellars beneath the pie shop and put to work as the cook, escapes via the lift used to bring the pies up from the cellar into the pie-shop. Here he makes the following startling announcement to the customers of that establishment: "Ladies and gentlemen - I fear that what I am going to say will spoil your appetites; but the truth is beautiful at all times, and I have to state that Mrs. Lovett's pies are made of human flesh!” Mrs. Lovett is then poisoned by Sweeney Todd who is, himself, apprehended and hanged. For her part, Johanna marries Mark and lives happily ever after.

Sweeney Todd is a character who first appeared as one of the protagonists of a penny dreadful serial entitled The String of Pearls (1846-1847). Claims that Sweeney Todd was a real person[1][2] are strongly disputed by scholars,[3][4][5] although there are possible legendary prototypes, arguably making the story of Sweeney Todd an example of an urban legend.[6] In the original version of the tale he is a barber who murders wealthy customers by pulling a lever while they are in his barber chair which, unknown to them, is fixed to a revolving trapdoor, making them fall backward into the basement, generally causing them to break their necks or skulls as they hit the ground. Just in case they are alive, he goes to the basement and "polishes them off," meaning he slits their throats with a cut-throat razor.[7] But in many adaptations of the tale, the murdering process is reversed, meaning that he slits their throats and then pulls a lever causing them to drop into the basement. After Todd has robbed his dead victims of their goods, Mrs. Lovett, his partner in crime (in some later versions, his friend who wants to become his lover), assists him in disposing of the bodies by having their flesh baked into meat pies, and selling them to the unsuspecting customers of her pie shop. Todd's barber shop is situated at 186 Fleet Street, London, next to St. Dunstan's church, and is connected to Mrs. Lovett's pie shop in nearby Bell Yard by means of an underground passage.[6] The tale surrounding the character became a staple of Victorian melodrama, and later a Tony award-winning Broadway musical in 1979. Sweeney Todd has also been featured in several films, the most recent being Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), directed by Tim Burton, with Johnny Depp in the title role. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweeney_Todd#Literary_history