In this fascinating exploration of murder in nineteenth century England, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction
Murder in the nineteenth century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, with cold-blooded killings transformed into novels, broadsides, ballads, opera, and melodrama-even into puppet shows and performing dog-acts. Detective fiction and the new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other-the founders of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens's Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell.
In this meticulously researched and engrossing book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder in Great Britain, both famous and obscure: from Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancée around town by omnibus, to Burke and Hare's bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, to the tragedy of the murdered Marr family in London's East End. Through these stories of murder-from the brutal to the pathetic-Flanders builds a rich and multi-faceted portrait of Victorian society in Great Britain. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the utterly dangerous, The Invention of Murder is both a mesmerizing tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.
A “revelatory” (Wall Street Journal) romp through the intimate details of Victorian life, by an historian who has cheerfully endured them all.Lauded by critics, How to Be a Victorian is an enchanting manual for the insatiably curious, the “the cheapest time-travel machine you’ll find” (NPR). Readers have fallen in love with Ruth Goodman, an historian who believes in getting her hands dirty. Drawing on her own firsthand adventures living in re-created Victorian conditions, Goodman serves as our bustling guide to nineteenth-century life. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work “imagines the Victorians as intrepid survivors” (New Republic) of the most perennially fascinating era of British history. From lacing into a corset after a round of calisthenics to slipping opium to the little ones, Goodman’s account of Victorian life “makes you feel as if you could pass as a native” (The New Yorker).
Armed with nothing more than her trusty weapons of satire, cynicism and a stock of irrelevant information culled from novels, Sam races to find a killer who is determined to find her first in the newest fast-paced, uproarious novel in the critically acclaimed series from New York Times bestselling author Judith Flanders.