The Invention of Murder
April 2, 2019 11:12 AM - by Judith Flanders - Subscribe

In this fascinating exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction Murder in Britain in the nineteenth century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, transformed into novels, into broadsides and ballads, into theatre and melodrama and opera―even into puppet shows and performing dog-acts. Detective fiction and England's new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other―the pioneers of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens's Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell.

In this fascinating book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder―both famous and obscure―from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper to the tragedies of the murdered Marr family in London's East End; Burke and Hare and their bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; and Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancée around town by omnibus. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the dangerous to know, The Invention of Murder is both a gripping tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Written by the same author as Inside the Victorian Home, this is a lengthy tome all about the Victorian fascination with murder. Such a fascination, led to today's focus on true crime, and the proliferation of fictional detectives. The real crux is this- before the Victorian age, there were of course sensational murders, people have always been terrible, but the Victorian age was the first when information via broadsides and newspapers and telegrams could spread information very quickly about sensational murders to more than just the people affected and the authorities pursuing. Similar to how modern people are obsessed with crime rates despite the fact that our cities have statistically never been safer- the new speed with which these crimes could spread inspired fear and panic. A good read.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:18 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Sounds similar to A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley (which is streaming on Britbox at the moment).
posted by mmmbacon at 6:17 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Just got this from my library. Now I'm just reading everything you post about Homo Neanderthalensis. These non-fiction posts are so my jam.
posted by kanata at 12:11 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


I'm glad you like them kanata!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:28 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


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