The Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer

Peschel Press
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THE PRINCE OF POISONERS

William Palmer was known to all in Rugeley. The son from a wealthy family had trained in London as a surgeon and returned to the English village with his beautiful, respected wife to raise a family and live out his days as a country doctor.

But Dr. Palmer wanted more. More money. More excitement. More women. He dove into the shady world of horse racing, gambling heavily and spending a fortune to build his stable of thoroughbreds. When money grew tight, he found that a dosed drink or two could clear the way. He got away with it, poisoning his wife, mother-in-law, his infant children, fellow gamblers and many more, until he killed one time too many.

The story of Dr. Palmer’s deadly treatments at the birth of the mass media riveted the nation and spread around the world. The sensational 12-day trial in London’s Old Bailey drew the attention of royalty (Prince Albert bought one of Palmer’s horses at auction) and literature (Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins followed the case) and made legal history as the first trial in which strychnine figured and the first to be moved because of the enormous publicity.

Appearing soon after Palmer’s execution in 1856, “The Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer” was published to cash in on the notorious case. The anonymous author combined facts and rumors about Palmer’s crimes with sketches on debauched medical students and crooked scams in horse racing, and pious meditations on Palmer’s wife. With the help of footnotes and essays, the result is a compelling, fascinating look at life in the early Victorian era, and the criminal doctor who was placed “at the head of his profession” by none other than Sherlock Holmes!

Look for these other Peschel Press books on the Palmer case: “The Illustrated Times Trial of William Palmer” and “The Life and Career of Dr. William Palmer of Rugeley”.

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About the author

Bill Peschel is a recovering journalist who shares a Pulitzer Prize with the staff of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. He also is a mystery fan who runs the Wimsey Annotations at Planetpeschel.com.

The author of Writers Gone Wild (Penguin), Bill publishes through Peschel Press the 223B Casebook Series of Sherlockian parodies and pastiches and annotated editions of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Whose Body? and Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Secret Adversary. An interest in Victorian crime led to the republication of three books on the William Palmer poisoning case.

Bill was born in Warren, Ohio, grew up in Charlotte, N.C., and graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He lives with his family and animal menagerie in Hershey, where the air really does smell like chocolate.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Peschel Press
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Published on
Apr 21, 2016
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Pages
342
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ISBN
9781530827114
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Criminals & Outlaws
History / Europe / Great Britain
True Crime / Murder / Serial Killers
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Bill Peschel

The Case of the Deadly Doctor

IT IS THE YEAR 1856. Queen Victoria has ruled for 19 years. The Crimean War recently ended after three years of bloody fighting. The elimination of taxes on newspapers unleashed a demand for stories and the bloodier the better.

The arrest of Dr. William Palmer of Rugeley for murder gave the public what it wanted: a terrifying death by strychnine; a glimpse into the shady world of horse-racing; and the possibility of insurance fraud. And the horrible suspicion that the soft-spoken, placid Palmer had also killed his wife, mother-in-law, brother, and most of his children.

The sensational 12-day trial in London’s Old Bailey drew the attention of royalty (Prince Albert bought one of Palmer’s horses) and inspired Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Doctors clashed on the stand as expert witnesses and spoke out in public. The public took it all in and heatedly debated the question: Did the good doctor poison his friend under the guise of curing him?

Originally published in 1856, this edition of “The Times Report of the Trial of

William Palmer” reprints the court transcript, edited and corrected for the first time, along with more than 60 woodcuts restored to make them look better than the day they were printed.

This edition also includes:

* More than 250 footnotes explaining historical, legal, and medical references

* Period maps of England and the Staffordshire region

 * A glossary of medical and scientific terms

* Profiles of the leading legal figures in the case. 

The result is a fresh look at the mass-murdering country doctor and the trial that shocked Britain.

The Rugeley Poisoner series also includes “The Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer” (1856) and “The Life and Career of Dr. William Palmer of Rugeley” (1926).

 

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