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In East London in the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age thirteen) and his brother Nattie (age twelve) were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. The judge sentenced him to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Shockingly, Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert. At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes's case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Summerscale re-creates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man's capacity to overcome the past.
Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime Book! From the internationally bestselling author, a deeply researched and atmospheric murder mystery of late Victorian-era London In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London -- for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. Nattie struck a plea and gave evidence against his brother. The court heard testimony about Robert's severe headaches, his fascination with violent criminals and his passion for 'penny dreadfuls', the pulp fiction of the day. He seemed to feel no remorse for what he had done, and neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced the thirteen-year-old to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Yet Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert--one that would have profoundly shocked anyone who thought they understood the Wicked Boy. At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes's case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man's capacity to overcome the past.
First published in Great Britain by Bloomsbury Publishing.
From the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher comes a brand new true story of Victorian scandal
Born in 1900 to a promiscuous American oil heiress and a British army captain, Marion Barbara Carstairs realised very early on that she was not like most little girls. Liberated by war work in WWI, Marion reinvented herself as Joe, and quickly went on to establish herself as a leading light of the fashionable lesbian demi-monde. She dressed in men's clothes, smoked cigars and cheroots, tattooed her arms, and became Britain's most celebrated female speed-boat racer - the 'fastest woman on water'. Yet Joe tired of the lime-light in 1934, and retired to the Bahamian Island of Whale Cay. There she fashioned her own self-sufficient kingdom, where she hosted riotous parties which boasted Hollywood actresses and British royalty among their guests. Although her lovers included screen sirens such as Marlene Dietrich, the real love of Joe's life was a small boy-doll named Lord Tod Wadley, to whom she remained devoted throughout her remarkable life. She died, aged 93, in 1993.
A deeply atmospheric literary tour de force with a cast of unforgettable characters, By Gaslight is the remarkable story of one detective's ceaseless hunt for an elusive criminal. London, 1885. A woman’s body is discovered on Edgware Road; ten miles away, her head is dredged from the dark, muddy waters of the Thames. Famed detective William Pinkerton had one lead to the notorious thief Edward Shade, and now that lead is dead. Determined to drag Shade out of the shadows, Pinkerton descends into the seedy underworld of Victorian London, with its gas-lit streets, opium dens, sewers and séance halls, its underworld of spies, blackmailers, cultists, petty thieves and pitiless murderers. Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. Returning to London in search of his lost beloved, his journey brings him face-to-face with Pinkerton, and what he learns of his lover’s fate will force him to confront a past - and a grief - he thought long buried. Epic in scope, brilliantly conceived and vividly atmospheric, By Gaslight is a riveting portrait of two men on the brink. Shrouded in secrets, betrayals and deceptions, this is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between
In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was travelling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner. He entered a First Class carriage on the 9.45pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks entered the carriage and discovered blood in the seat cushions; also on the floor, windows and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain. The race to identify the killer and catch him as he flees on a boat to America was eagerly followed by citizens both sides of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the nation.
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