Fatal Evidence: Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor & the Dawn of Forensic Science

Fatal Evidence: Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor & the Dawn of Forensic Science

by Helen Barrell


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Fatal Evidence: Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor & the Dawn of Forensic Science by Helen Barrell

A surgeon and chemist at Guy’s Hospital in London, Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor used new techniques to search the human body for evidence that once had been unseen. As well as tracing poisons, he could identify blood on clothing and weapons, and used hair and fiber analysis to catch killers.

Taylor is perhaps best remembered as an expert witness at one of Victorian England’s most infamous trials – that of William Palmer, ‘The Rugeley Poisoner’. But he was involved in many other intriguing cases, from a skeleton in a carpet bag to a fire that nearly destroyed two towns, and several poisonings in between.

Taylor wrote widely on forensic medicine. He gave Charles Dickens a tour of his laboratory, and Wilkie Collins owned copies of his books. His work was known to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he inspired the creation of fictional forensic detective Dr Thorndyke. For Dorothy L. Sayers, Taylor’s books were ‘the back doors to death’.

From crime scene to laboratory to courtroom – and sometimes to the gallows – this is the world of Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor and his fatal evidence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781473883413
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
Publication date: 11/29/2017
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Helen Barrell is a librarian at the University of Birmingham. She has appeared on BBC 4’s _Punt PI_, has written for magazines such as _Fortean Times_ and _Family Tree_, and guest blogs for Findmypast. Her first book, _Poison Panic: Arsenic Deaths in 1840s Essex_, was published by Pen & Sword in 2016\. Helen’s history website is at ww.essexandsuffolksurnames.co.uk and she blogs about writing at www.helenbarrell.co.uk

Table of Contents

Note on Text vi

Introduction vii

Chapter 1 Go Thy Way, Passenger 1

Chapter 2 More of Impulse than Discretion 12

Chapter 3 Fearful and Wonderful 19

Chapter 4 The Light of an English Sun 26

Chapter 5 One of the Most Eminent Men 36

Chapter 6 My Heart is as Hard as a Stone 48

Chapter 7 The Means of our Preservation 58

Chapter 8 The Only Friend I had in the World 69

Chapter 9 The Formidable Scourge 79

Chapter 10 His Very High Position 91

Chapter 11 Romantic, Mysterious, and Singular 103

Chapter 12 Enter Not into the Path of the Wicked 113

Chapter 13 Truth Will Always Go the Farthest 143

Chapter 14 Grieved Beyond all Endurance 151

Chapter 15 You are the Villain 166

Chapter 16 Blood Enough 179

Chapter 17 The Eminent Opinion of Professor Taylor 190

Timeline 204

Acknowledgements 206

Further Reading 207

Selected Bibliography 208

Notes 213

Index 225

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