The Case of the Chocolate Cream Killer: The Poisonous Passion of Christiana Edmunds

The Case of the Chocolate Cream Killer: The Poisonous Passion of Christiana Edmunds

by Kaye Jones


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“The trial which terminated yesterday…revealed one of the strangest and most horrible stories possibly ever told in a court of justice.” (Morning Post).

When the news broke in 1871 of a series of mysterious poisonings in Brighton, shock and horror gripped the Victorian public. Even more disturbing was the revelation that the culprit was not a common criminal but rather a local 'lady of fortune' called Christiana Edmunds.

From March 1871 Christiana had sent out dozens of poisoned chocolates and sweets to Brighton’s residents. Her campaign resulted in the death of four-year-old holiday maker Sidney Barker, and wounded countless others. Her arrest in August 1871 provoked such an emotional response from the local public that her trial was moved from Brighton to London’s Old Bailey.

The prosecution anticipated an easy victory. Christiana had not confessed, but witnesses confirmed that she had purchased strychnine and their testimonies placed her at the scene of the crimes. She had a motive too, argued the prosecution; she was a scorned woman. Despite the best efforts of the defense, the jury took only one hour to convict her of the murder of Sidney Barker and the attempted murder of three others. In a last dramatic twist, Christiana was reprieved after being declared insane by the Home Office and lived out her days in Broadmoor.

Alongside Christiana’s case, the book will offer a snapshot of life in Brighton, one of Victorian England’s busiest and most popular leisure resorts. However, this wholesome holiday destination also had a steamy underworld of sexual license, which reached even seemingly secure middle-class young women.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781781593752
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 05/24/2016
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Kaye Jones studied history at the University of Manchester and her dissertation on Victorian murderesses was published shortly after. She has written three titles for the History In An Hour series and is currently working on another book for Pen & Sword which explores the hidden dangers of the Victorian workplace. You can read more about Kaye’s research on her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter:
Blog:, Facebook: /kayejoneswriter, Twitter: @kaye_jones

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

15 March 1847 vii

Chapter 1 "An Easy and Indifferent Childhood" 1

Chapter 2 "Where Insanity Has Prevailed" 12

Chapter 3 "A Creature of Leisure" 25

Chapter 4 "Exciting the Passions" 37

Chapter 5 "A Scattering of Death" 49

Chapter 6 "For the Pure Love of Deception" 59

Chapter 7 "Who Knows Where This May End" 72

Chapter 8 "A Delicate Thing to Allude to" 82

Chapter 9 "Most Extraordinary and Most Serious Charges" 92

Chapter 10 "The Border Land Between Crime and Insanity" 106

Chapter 11 "A Grievous Tale to Tell" 120

Chapter 12 "The Venus of Broadmoor" 132

Epilogue 143

Notes 146

Bibliography 155

Index 160

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