Twisting in the Wind: The Murderess and the English Press

Overview

Women accused of murder in nineteenth-century England got bad press. Broadsides, newspapers, and books depicted their stories in gruesome detail, often with illustrations of the crime scene, the courtroom proceedings, and the execution. This sensational coverage fed the public appetite for stories of female deviancy and punishment.

Judith Knelman contends that the portrayal of murder by women was linked to a broader public agenda, set and controlled by men. Women were expected ...

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Overview

Women accused of murder in nineteenth-century England got bad press. Broadsides, newspapers, and books depicted their stories in gruesome detail, often with illustrations of the crime scene, the courtroom proceedings, and the execution. This sensational coverage fed the public appetite for stories of female deviancy and punishment.

Judith Knelman contends that the portrayal of murder by women was linked to a broader public agenda, set and controlled by men. Women were expected to be devoted to giving and sustaining life. Aggression was "masculine." Thus a woman who killed posed a threat to patriarchal authority.

Knelman describes the range and incidence of murder by women in England. She analyses case histories of different kinds of murder, and explores how press representations of the murderess contributed to the Victorian construction of femininity. She also suggests that class and gender discrimination pushed women to kill.

Twisting in the Wind is a comprehensive and balanced account that will appeal to true crime fans, sociologists, criminologists, historians, and researchers in women's studies.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802074201
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Knelman is an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 Patterns and Perceptions
1 The Case of the Vanishing Murderess 3
2 The Popular Press 20
Pt. 2 Murder
3 Multiple Murder 47
4 Murder of Husbands, Lovers, or Rivals in Love 85
5 Child Murder 123
6 Baby-Farming and Infanticide 145
7 Murder of and by Servants 181
8 Murder of the Elderly 207
Pt. 3 Meaning
9 The Image of the Murderess 225
10 The Feminine Perspective 234
11 The Body of the Murderess 249
12 The Murder of the Murderess 258
Conclusion 273
Appendix 275
Notes 279
Select Bibliography 307
Index 313
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