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Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery and Arsenic by Kate Colquhoun

Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery and Arsenic

Biography / Autobiography   History   

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What a tangled web! An unhappy marriage, an overbearing hypochondriac of a husband whose extreme self medication – often with that Victorian cure-all Arsenic, only made his health worse, in the end it was the Arsenic that killed him but was it overdosing or did Mrs Maybrick help him on his way? With Kate Colquhoun’s detection we are party to an unravelling of the facts and the fate of Florence Maybrick, who, if found guilty would almost certainly have been hanged. Did she do it?

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Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery and Arsenic by Kate Colquhoun

In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick. 'The Maybrick Mystery' had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence's past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud's. Florence's fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous infidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James' own habit of self-medicating to blame for his demise? Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, did she kill him?


This is a gripping, beautifully detailed story redolent with danger and impending tragedy. -- Kirsty Wark

Accomplished biographer and social commentator Kate Colquhoun is taking on Victorian murder in Did She Kill Him? Conveying the hypocrisy and claustrophobia of middle-class life at the time it is likely to hit the spot with anyone who was intrigued by The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. - Daily Express - Top titles for 2014

With deliciously dark elements of addiction, deception, torrid adultery and poison, this is the riveting true story of a sensational Victorian trial of 1889 ... Colquhoun's writing has a wonderful slow burn to it, and until the final page, she keeps us guessing: guilty, or not guilty? - The Bookseller

About the Author

Kate Colquhoun's previous non-fiction titles were shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize 2004 and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. Her most recent book Mr Briggs' Hat was shortlisted for the 2011 CWA Daggers: Non-fiction Prize. As well as writing for several newspapers and magazines, she appears regularly on national radio and television. She lives in London with her two sons.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Kate Colquhoun

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Biography / Autobiography



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