Victorian Murderesses by Mary S. Hartman

Victorian Murderesses

This riveting combination of true crime and social history examines a dozen cases from the 1800s involving thirteen French and English women charged with murder. Each incident was a cause célèbre, and this mixture of scandal and scholarship offers illuminating details of backgrounds, deeds, and trials."The real delight is that historian Mary S. Hartman does more than reconstruct twelve famous trials. She has written a piece on the social histor...

Details Victorian Murderesses

TitleVictorian Murderesses
Release DateJun 18th, 2014
PublisherDover Publications
GenreCrime, True Crime, Nonfiction, History, Mystery, Historical, Victorian, Literature, 19th Century

Reviews Victorian Murderesses

  • Cleo Bannister
    There is something quite fascinating about women who murder, and judging by the amount of contemporary reporting of the details about the cases featured in this book, nothing much has changed over time. In this book the author has selected an Englishwoman and a Frenchwoman for each chapter based upon the circumstances, rather than the method of their crimes. All the women featured are from the middle-classes and a certain amount of conjecture is ...
  • OutlawPoet
    Scholarly, But FascinatingWhen I chose to read this book, I thought I was getting something lightweight - a scandalous, fluffy, and sensationalist book about murderesses. I had my popcorn ready.But as I started to read, I realized that this is a serious and scholarly study of a woman's place in Victorian society, how it lead to various murders, and how society's view of women impacted the outcome of various murder investigations. And I still munc...
  • Tintaglia
    Gli aspiranti lettori siano avvisati: sotto la maschera del true crime vittoriano questo saggio è un'approfondita analisi del ruolo della donna nella Francia e nell'Inghilterra del 1800, delle aspettative e pressioni sociali che la riguardavano, dell'immagine a cui doveva rispondere nelle varie fasi della sua esistenza.E di come questa immagine e queste aspettative insieme generassero delitti e influenzassero sentenze.Accurato e interessante.
  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    I found this book's layout a bit confusing. Two women per chapter. Their cases were compared. Except the chapters were really long and the print was minuscule and it was easy to twist the two up. The cases themselves were interesting. Only one had I read about in its own book.
  • Janice Schulz
    Victorian Murderesses epitomizes everything I look for in a true crime study. Mary Hartman tells the stories of 12 women in England and France accused of murder in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, including their motivations, the crimes they committed, and their court trials. (Curiously the book's subtitle claims 13 women, but I only count 12.) Far from making it a mere sensationalized tale, Hartman delves into the societal influences that sh...
  • A.L. Butcher
    3.5 starsThis is not a bad book, but it's not particularly good either - at least structurwiseThe cases included in this text are:- Marie Lafarge and Euphemie Lacoste;- Madeleine Smith and Angelina  Lemoine;- Celestine Doudet and Constance Kent;- Florence Bravo and Henriette Francy;- Gabrielle Fenayrou and Adelaide Bartlett;- Florence Maybrick and Claire Reymond.Good points: The French cases were largely unknown to me and that aspect was intere...
  • Heath
    So much arsenic.
  • Katherine Addison
    This is a good and interesting book, but it's definitely far more Women's Studies than it is True Crime. Hartman pairs 6 sets of French and English women who were tried for murder in the 19th century, and analyzes their crimes in terms of women's rights and expectations around marriage. (I say "around" rather than "in" because 2 of the women, Constance Kent and Celestine Doudet, were unmarried.) She's interested, as she says, in using these cause...
  • Donna Davis
    Note the change.My review below, a three star review, stands as written.However, my teenager, a high school senior, grabbed this book the instant I set it down, and proclaims it to be "...even better than I thought!" She is using it to acquire extra credit in world history class, and speaks about the various murderesses as if they were family members. This one, she thinks was vindicated; that one, she has NO sympathy for.So from our household, th...
  • Andréa
    The subject matter is quite interesting, but it's addressed in a much more scholarly, academic way than I was expecting. Each chapter contrasts two similar murderesses, switching back and forth between their stories, which makes it hard to keep the individual stories straight. The introduction and conclusion completely summarize the cases studied, much the way a collegiate thesis or dissertation would, and refer to the text as "this study". All i...
  • H.L. Stephens
    I think my great mistake with this book was having read other books that had a more extensive history of each woman and the crime(s) she was accused of committing. There seemed to be more conjecture than detail in this book and I like the facts more than speculation, especially when each segment is so abbreviated. All in all, it is a good starting place for the novice who is curious about Victorian crimes committed by women. I would not recommend...
  • Laura
    2.5 stars. This book should have been really interesting, but I had a lot of trouble getting into it. I didn't find the author's writing style to be very compelling, which I think was a large part of the problem for me. Also, I thought that including 2 women in each chapter and going back and forth between them got confusing at times - I would have preferred a single chapter for each subject. Received from NetGalley.
  • Susanne
    Really enjoyed this. Social & historical analysis plus probable reconstructions of the crimes. Scholarly and entertaining. And in at least one of these cases--that I've read about before and the woman is always portrayed as innocent-- thanks to this meticulous research & reconstruction, I'm now convinced she was totally guilty.
  • Kelsey
    It was really interesting, but a bit dry and academic. I'd love to take a class that had this on the syllabus, but as a pleasure-read it was a little dull.
  • Johanna
    True crime along with great sociological analysis of women's changing roles, class issues, and retrospective forensic analysis. I highly recommend to anyone who likes women's history and critical analysis.
  • Susan Johnston
    Victorian times were fraught with change. In both England and France, to a lesser degree, society shifted dramatically. The expectations of the middle class and the subsequent transitions to more modern times perhaps impacted women more than men. While still bound by the double standard in society and morality, still with less rights than their husbands, more and more women shed the old standards and adopted new expectations.Ms. Hartman has done ...
  • Lise
    I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars for this one, but I think I can say 'it was amazing' without meaning 'I absolutely adored it'. The book is both very readable and very information dense. It illuminates both the mid-to-late Victorian period (which it covers) and the 1970's (when it was written).The premise of the book is that by examining the lives of accused middle class mur...
  • Kathrin
    I received a free copy of this book. In "Victorian Murderesses" you are presented with 13 crime cases set in the Victorian era. The book is divided into several chapters dealing different aspects of crimes. In most cases there is an English and French woman and the author pays attention on showing the differences in both countries. I read quite a lot of crime literature and thus are interested in real crimes and how the public dealt with them. Un...
  • Tom Mueller
    Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door is a graphic description of Sylvia Likens' 1965 torture/murder by Gertrude Baniszewski in Indiana. Apathy of witnesses who heard ongoing torture, at least 15 involved in torture. is based on this murder.After I first read Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, I followed up by reading a lot of newspaper reports and some non-fiction books including Victorian Murderesses, which I learned of in the bibliography in T...
  • Marjolein
    READ IN ENGLISH Read all my reviews on I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!Normally I never really read a lot of true crime books as I find them mostly speculative or just looking for the scandals in the stories. I'd read some reviews about this book before requesting it and they told me that this book was a lot more than just a mere r...
  • Lori
    This is a fascinating look at 19th century "murderesses" and the whys and hows of their actions. Some are pretty brutal, others perhaps self defense. But all, at least in the author's point of view, have a lot to do with the place of the woman in this time period. Without much control over their own lives, these women found themselves in situations that for one reason or another led them to murder (or at least to be accused of it). In some cases ...
  • Caitlin
    A really interesting examination of crime in the context of gender and class. Some of Hartman's conclusions seem a little stretched to me, but she presents them well with plenty of evidence.Two of the women in this book I'd read about in detail in other books. These other writers drew different conclusions to Hartman and they are worthwhile companion books- The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Dete...
  • Stephanie
    My copy has the cool cover from 1978 https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.c... (sorry it's a little raggedy).This book is far better than average, devoting a considerable amount of time to drawing a picture of the time and the culture within which these women lived. Then the author delves into the character of the women, analyzing each individually, based on their letters, the letters and testimony of those around them, and other first sources. Ea...
  • Paula
    This book is both historical and sociological. It is a very well-written and researched book on famous Victorian era murders committed by women. This is the historical part. To the author's credit, the stories of these women are interesting and compelling. Despite the considerable research and supporting documentation in the book, there is nothing dry and boring about it.The reader gains a much better understanding of the role of women, particula...
  • Shelley
    I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.I found this book a very good source for people who are looking for a great scholarly book on murders which take place during this time period. This is not a book you are going to just sit down and read "for fun" but rather something you will read if you really need some detailed information. I did find quite a bit of it fascinating but at times I was a bit overwhelmed by ...
  • Selena
    If you are looking for a great read about women who have committed murder in the Victorian era, this is THE book. I really enjoyed the way the chapters were broken up into two murders that were similar. There is in depth study of each case, the history, and the cases. If you are looking for a story, this will not be the book. If you are looking for a historical study, this IS the book to read. I am giving four instead of five stars ONLY because t...
  • Heidi
    Huzzah! Hartman is back in print! I loved this book and am so glad to see it's been returned to print. You can't beat the highly readable scholarly treatment of these 13 Victorian murderesses. Harman does a spectacular job of bringing these women and the carnage they created into the 20 and 21st centuries as well as giving the reader an excellent feminist critique of their reception in scholarly and popular culture. Pour yourself a cup of tea and...
  • Jill
    I graduated from college in 1979, and this is one of the few textbooks I remember vividly all these years later. It is a fascinating portrait of women who felt they had no option but to murder their oppressors - husbands, fathers, etc. It was part of a Victorian literature course taught at Douglass College (Rutgers University) by the great Elaine Showalter.