“Pull off this lady’s breeches”: The Case of Mary Newell

Little is known about Mary Newell before 1860, and perhaps she might have remained a relatively anonymous woman in mid-nineteenth century England. That is, if not for the events of the autumn of 1861 and her subsequent trial that winter, where her story shared newsprint with one of England’s most galvanizing tragedies.[1] Born in 1839, Mary Newell’s name appears on the April 1861 census record in the household of William J. Barker. Residing with the Barker family at 29 Bessborough

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A Tale of Two Whitechapels: Jack the Ripper and the Canonical Five in Contemporary True Crime

It wasn’t the best of times, and it wasn’t the worst of times. For Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Cate Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly, Whitechapel, London in 1888 was the end of times. Known as “the canonical five” of Jack the Ripper’s victims, these women—largely invisible to London culture during their lives—can’t rest in their deaths. For 130 years writers, criminologists, armchair detectives, filmmakers, and artists have studied and reproduced all of the blood-soaked details of their murders

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Vicky Nagy, Video games, the Victorian Era and Sherlock Holmes

Although a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, Victoria M Nagy researched female criminality during the mid-nineteenth century in Essex for her PhD which she graduated with in 2012 from Monash University. She is currently an Honorary Associate with La Trobe University and is working on a new project focusing on female criminality in the colony of Victoria from 1860 to 1900. Her book Nineteenth-Century Female Poisoners: Three English Women Who Used Arsenic to Kill is now available from Palgrave MacMillan. Her

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Vicky Nagy, The Essex Poisoning Cases 1846-1851

Vicky received her PhD in 2012 from Monash University. Her PhD focused on the social and legal representations of female poisoners’ femininity during the Victorian period. Vicky has been a lecturer at ELTE (Hungary), and researcher at Monash and La Trobe Universities. She is currently an Honorary Associate at La Trobe University and about to begin a new project looking at female criminality in Australia during the colonial period. Her book, Nineteenth-Century Female Poisoners: Three English Women Who Used Arsenic

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Lulu: The Tiger Lillies at Contact Theatre, Manchester

By Guy Woolnough Lulu, based on the verses of Wedekind, performed by the Tiger Lillies[1], is a dark, compelling and shocking show. It shocks in the most affecting way, not with overt displays of violence or sex, but with powerful words and an intense narrative. I found the performance stunning and fascinating: it is good. Lulu, the eponymous heroine danced by Laura Caldow, is the beauty from the slums who is abused and exploited by men. From her childhood in

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Silhouette of Sherlock Holmes

How Sherlock Changed the World

Jennifer Pyke (Mount Holyoke College) December 17th PBS will air How Sherlock Changed the World, a documentary that positions Holmes and Conan Doyle as not only anticipating but in some cases creating the forensic science of today.  The two-hour show (which has also aired on National Geographic in the UK) showcases leading forensic investigators, giddy with their love of Holmes, explaining how processes and tests were based on the fictional lab on Baker Street and sharing how often Holmes is in their

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Full steam ahead! Murder on the Victorian Railway

George Dent and Julie-Marie Strange, Trainspotters Extraordinaire A review of ‘Murder on the Victorian Railway‘ first shown 21 February 2013, BBC 2. To watch an earlier interview with Kate Colquhoun, the author of Mr Briggs’ Hat, click here. The body on the tracks; the carriage spoiled with blood; the missing watch; the clue of the hat.  Murder! On the Railway! Not, in this case, an Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle mystery, but, the murder of a businessman, Thomas Briggs, on

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Interpreting the Victorian courtroom

Sean McConnell, Department of English and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University Given that the module I study is ‘Prison Voices’, it is perhaps surprising that the wide variety of literary and historical sources we have engaged with are as interested with what goes on outside the prison walls as they are with what happens within.  We have examined various literary tropes about the courtroom, such as Dickens’ critique of the Victorian legal system through his characterization of Jaggers in

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‘Caught at Last’: The criminalization of men in nineteenth-century Liverpool

Megan Ainsworth, Department of English and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University On a recent field trip to one of Liverpool’s most prominent buildings, St. George’s Hall, our ‘Prison Voices’ module was taken beyond the university. The building, regarded as a monument to the city, opened in 1854 and was to serve a multitude of purposes for the people of Liverpool, being both a concert hall and courtroom. The building is renowned for its judicial history. Initially, the Assizes (the

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Argyle Street Bridewell: Walking the beat with Liverpool’s nineteenth–century police force

Beth McConnell, Department of English and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University When we visited the welcoming pub, L1 Bridewell, it was difficult to believe we were sitting in what were once the holding cells for Victorian prisoners. Known in the nineteenth century as Argyle Street Bridewell, it was one of ten police stations in the Liverpool district as each station could not be more than 1.5 miles apart. In one of the original cells, we did a close reading

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