‘Ghoulishly entertaining’ Jacqueline Banerjee, Times Literary Supplement
A grisly book dedicated to the crimes, perversions and outrages of Victorian England, covering high-profile offences – such as the murder of actor William Terriss, whose stabbing at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre in 1897 filled the front pages for many weeks – as well as lesser-known transgressions that scandalised the Victorian era.
The tales include murders and violent crimes, but also feature scandals that merely amused the Victorians. These include the story of a teenage man who married an actress, only to be shipped off to Australia by his disgusted parents; and the Italian ice-cream man who only meant to buy his sweetheart a hat but ended up proposing marriage instead. When he broke it off, his fiancée’s father sued him and the story was dubbed the ‘Amusing Aberdeen Breach of Promise Case’. Also present is the gruesome story of the murder of Patrick O Connor who was shot in the head and buried under the kitchen flagstones by his lover Maria Manning and her husband, Frederick. The couple’s subsequent trial caused a sensation and even author Charles Dickens attended the grisly public hanging.
Drawing on a range of sources from university records and Old Bailey transcripts to national and regional newspaper archives, Michelle Morgan’s research sheds new light on well-known stories as well as unearthing previously unknown incidents.