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London 1849: A Victorian Murder Storyby Michael Alpert
Synopses & Reviews
Against the backdrop of Victorian London and full of fascinating detail about the city, this is the sensational story of the Manning murder
It is 1849 London and the city is filthy, plagued, full of crime and filling up with refugees from the Irish Famine and the revolutionary wars on the continent. But the city is also on the brink of reform as transit stations are built, rioters pardoned and the Great Exhibition planned. The heaving city is the backdrop for the most sensational crime and trial of the decade: the Manning murder case. On August 9th Frederick and Maria Manning murder Patrick O'Connor, her lover, in the basement kitchen of their new terraced house in Bermondsey, South London. They bury the corpse under the flagstones, close up the house and flee in different directions: she to Scotland, he to the Channel Islands. Throughout the sticky summer the people of London obsess over the fate of the dominant mysterious woman and her weak husband as the full detail of their slaughter unfolded.London 1849 follows the murder, the trial and the execution, interweaving all the way the scene that was London: crime, noise, cholera, overpacked slums, prostitution, law and order, prisons. Michael Alpert uses the story to reveal life on the docks where the victimworked, the neighborhood where the Mannings lived, sensational press coverage, marital and sexual behavior, medical progress against disease, the influx of immigrants, and public obsession with the killers. It is a grisly murder story set against the Victorian London, drawn in colorful and personal detail.
Michael Alpert taught history at the University of Westminster. His interests range widely and his publications include Two Spanish Picaresque Novels (Penguin).
Maria and Frederick Manning came from Taunton to live in the London district of Bermondsey in 1849. They murdered Maria's lover, Patrick O'Connor, for his money. They fled, were captured, tried and hanged at Horsemonger Lane Prison, Southwark, before a roaring crowd.
1849 London was a sprawling and overcrowded city. Its streets varied from the wildly fashionable to the fetid, rife with crime, disease and prostitution. Foul water, filth-choked sewers and cholera killed thousands. The city was jammed with carts, cabs, omnibuses and new railways, yet Londoners continued to find new ways to educate and entertain themselves.
Michael Alpert has used the full records of the trial and the police files of the case, together with contemporary journalism and fiction, to recreate ordinary people's day-to-day London life in 1849.
Table of Contents
1. ‘Orrible murder in Bermondsey
2. ‘An extremely fine woman'
3. What they ate and what they wore
4. In sickness and I health
5. Money, housing and class
6. Learning, literature and liturgy
7. ‘A burst of applause that made the building ring'
10. Crime and punishment
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History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology