Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley

Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley

By BBC Radio 4

Lucy and a crack team of female detectives investigate the crimes of women from the 19th and 20th Century from a contemporary, feminist perspective.

Episodes

28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.In this episode Lucy is joined by Cameron Esposito, stand-up comic, actor, writer and host of the hit podcast Queery. They investigate the case of 19-year-old Alice Mitchell who killed 17-year-old Freda Ward in Memphis, Tennessee in 1892 after a stormy and illicit relationship. Alice and Freda plan to marry and move to St Louis, but when Freda’s family discover their relationship, she comes under enormous pressure to end it.Alice Mitchell’s subsequent actions caused a nationwide sensation and influenced the way lesbians were perceived by the press and the public for decades. Lucy is also joined by the historian Alexis Coe, author of Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis, who helps Lucy uncover exactly what drove Alice to kill the woman she loved.Lucy wants to know what this case tells us about women’s lives in the southern states of America at the end of the 19th century, particularly the lives of LGBTQ+ women, and what it tells us about queer women’s lives in America now. Today in Tennessee the LGBTQ+ community feels under increasing threat with legislation banning books in schools which portray gay or trans people and bans on drag acts. Lucy asks the drag artist and activist Magical Miss Mothie to find out more from members of the community during their annual Pride festival in the city.The story of Alice and Freda is complex and disturbing, and it culminates in the destruction of two young lives. But it reminds us that queer people have always been there and always will be; in the teeth of opposition from everyone around her Alice refused to see why she should not live her life with the woman she loved.Produced in partnership with the Open UniversityProducer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Clare Corbett, Bill Hope and Laurel Lefkow Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia Hayball Executive Producer: Kirsty HunterA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
28/02/24·28m 0s

27. Sarah Bird - Cruel Employer

Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.Lucy Worsley travels to Buckland Brewer, Devon, to investigate the death of a young servant girl on a remote farm. Far from bucolic idyll with roses around the door, this is the location of a grizzly crime where a teenage girl, Mary-Ann Parsons, is found dead, her emaciated body horribly bruised and battered.Guest Detective Baroness Helena Kennedy, a leading barrister and expert on human rights and modern slavery, joins Lucy to examine the crime. The alleged Lady Killer is Sarah Bird, a young farmer’s wife and the mother of four children. Could she really be capable of this brutal murder? Together with Lady Killers’ in-house historian Professor Rosalind Crone, the team examines how Mary-Ann Parsons comes to work as a Parish Apprentice at Gawland Farm, and how a toxic culture of abuse becomes the norm. With a wealth of experience in modern slavery, Baroness Helena Kennedy unpicks how people become trapped in domestic servitude today and what it takes to turn someone into an enslaver.Produced in partnership with the Open University.Producer: Emily Hughes Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia Hayball. A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
21/02/24·28m 57s

26. Mary Surratt - Assassinating a President

Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.In this episode Lucy is joined by Evy Poumpouras, former special agent with the Secret Service, where she protected five US presidents as part of the Presidential Protective Division.Lucy and Evy investigate the case of Mary Surratt, a 42 year-old widow, mother and pious Catholic who was arrested in April 1865 for conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. He had been shot by former actor John Wilkes Booth while watching a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. One of the most sensational trials in US history followed, with prosecutors pushing for death sentences for everyone involved in the murder.Lucy and Evy want to find out why the authorities were so sure that Surratt was involved in the assassination. They want to know what her story tells us about the lives of women at the close of the American Civil War. And they ask what happens when women step outside the domestic sphere and dare to get involved in protest and politics?To find out more about the background to the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination, Lucy asks Dr Nikki M Taylor, Professor of History at Howard University Washington DC, to go to Ford’s Theatre and to the Surratt House Museum, formerly Mary’s Surratt’s tavern in Maryland. Mary Surratt, she discovers, was a slave-holder and, like John Wilkes Booth, was horrified by Lincoln’s intention to end slavery and enfranchise African Americans.Mary Surratt is an elusive and divisive woman. Lucy wants to know if she was a devoted mother attempting to make her way in the world - or a hard-hearted conspirator, a slave-holder and fanatical Confederate trying to reignite the civil war.Produced in partnership with the Open UniversityProducer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Bill Hope, Jonathan Keeble and Laurel Lefkow Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
14/02/24·27m 57s

25. Women on Trial

Lucy Worsley, Professor Rosalind Crone and barrister Nneka Akudolu KC take a look behind the scenes of Lady Killers. They shine a light on the detective work required to build the cases of these infamous murderesses, how evidence is pieced together, and how we can hear what these Victorian women are really trying to tell us about their lives. Nneka shares insights into her work specialising in complex crimes: murder, drug trafficking and serious sexual offences, and how she uses evidence to build a case in the courtroom.Produced in partnership with the Open University.Producer: Emily Hughes Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia Hayball. A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
07/02/24·28m 32s

24. Frances Kidder - Wicked Stepmother

Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.In this episode, Lucy is joined by Dr Gwen Adshead, for many years a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital.They investigate the case of Frances Kidder, a 25-year-old woman unhappily married to a much older man, who is accused of murdering her stepdaughter Louisa in Kent in 1867. We all know the stories of Cinderella and Snow White – evil stepmothers badly treating their innocent stepdaughters. So when, one evening in August 1867, Louisa Kidder fails to return from a walk with her stepmother Frances across the lonely wetlands of Romney Marsh, Frances has some explaining to do. Lucy is also joined by historian Rosalind Crone, Professor of History at the Open University. She has uncovered numerous reports from local magistrates’ courts which reveal the violence and discord of the Kidder household. Lucy and Rosalind travel to Hythe in Kent where Frances married her violent husband, to Romney Marsh where Louisa disappeared, and to Maidstone Gaol where Frances awaited trial.Lucy wants to know what actually happened to Louisa on that August evening. Is Frances a wicked stepmother or herself the victim of a troubled and violent home? What does her case tell us about family breakdown in the 19th century, and how much has changed today?Produced in partnership with the Open UniversityProducer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Clare Corbett, Jonathan Keeble and Ruth Sillers Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
31/01/24·28m 4s

23. Jane and Ann Boyd - Secret Baby

Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.In this episode Lucy is joined by the Right Honourable Dame Siobhan Keegan, the Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, who was one of the first women High Court judges in Northern Ireland.They explore the case of mother and daughter Jane and Ann Boyd, from a poor family living in Holywood near Belfast, whose lives are turned upside down when 19-year-old Ann is dismissed from her job as a domestic servant because she is pregnant and unmarried. We worry a lot about lack of privacy today, about the invasiveness of social media, but Lucy discovers that in mid 19th century rural Ireland, in a very religious community, there was absolutely no privacy. The Boyd’s neighbours and extended family were in and out of each other’s houses all day, observing every detail of each other’s lives. So when Ann goes into labour in the Boyd’s cottage, there is no way that Jane is going to be able to keep her daughter’s baby a secret.Lucy is also joined by historian Rosalind Crone, Professor of History at the Open University. They travel to the Ulster Folk Museum near Holywood and discover the awful truth about how the shame of illegitimacy drove hundreds of Irish women every year to desperate measures to conceal their unwanted pregnancies. Lucy wants to know what it was like trying to deal with an illegitimate pregnancy in a highly religious, judgemental society. How did the mid 19th century criminal justice system deal with women like Jane and Ann Boyd, and what might happen to women in a similar situation today?Produced in partnership with the Open UniversityProducer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Grace, Catherine and Margaret Cunningham, Jonathan Keeble, Patrick Kelly-Bradley and William McBride Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4 New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
24/01/24·29m 18s

22. Marie Christensen - Murderous Matron

It’s the 14th September 1896, just a short distance from Brisbane, on Australia’s east coast, and the sun is rising on Minjerribah Island, the ancestral land of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait ‘Quandamooka People’. It’s an area rich in Aboriginal culture. It’s also a colonised area, steeped in racism and division, and this is where the murder of six year old ‘Cassey’ takes place.To investigate this tragic crime and its contemporary resonances, Lucy Worsley is joined by Guest Detective Vanessa Turnbull Roberts. Vanessa is a proud Bundjalung Widubul-Wiabul First Nations woman, a Law Graduate and recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal for her work around the adoption laws and forcible removal of First Nations children.Lucy hears that our case begins at ‘Myora Mission School’, an institution set up by white settlers who wish to establish a ‘reformatory’ for Aboriginal children. In reality, it’s part of a wider ‘management’ system aimed at controlling the First Nations population. The children are being trained in domestic duties to work as servants for white families. There’s also evidence that some of the children – including six-year-old Cassey - have been forcibly taken from their homes.Whilst the children are under the supervision of their matron – a Danish settler called Marie Christensen – Cassey is killed. Marie’s cruel and fatal actions are witnessed by First Nations women Budlo Lefu, Topsy Mcleod and Polly Roberts who bravely speak out on Cassey’s behalf.Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University travels to Australia to visit the site of the Mission School and meet local tribal elders.As the tragic murder unfolds, Vanessa explains that the subject which really underpins everything in this case, is Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’, the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities. Although this began during the earliest days of white settlement, Vanessa – herself, a survivor of the ‘Family Policing System’ – reveals, it is not a thing of the past.Produced in partnership with the Open University.Producer: Nicola Humphries Readers: Paula Delany-Nazarski, Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia Hayball.A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4With thanks to The Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-In-Council and North Stradbroke Island Museum on MinjerribahNew episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
17/01/24·29m 18s

21. Maria Manning - 'Lady Macbeth of Bermondsey'

Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.This episode sees Lucy traverse London, hot on the heels of Maria Manning, the so-called Lady Macbeth of Bermondsey, a woman who confounds expectations of respectable Victorian England. Maria shocked the nation in 1849, when she conspired with her husband to kill her lover, before stealing the dead man’s money and making a break for freedom on the all-new intercity rail network. She’s the inspiration for a key character in Charles Dickens' famous proto-detective novel Bleak House and her fate leads to a pivotal change in the law.To untangle this remarkable story, Lucy is joined by international literary superstar Kate Mosse, author of historical fiction novels including the Joubert Family Chronicles and founder-director of The Women’s Prize for Fiction. Lucy also visits the scene of the crime and recreates Maria’s escape across the capital with Lady Killers’ in-house historian Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University. They uncover a bizarre trail of evidence, including the huge stash of belongings Maria deposited at London Bridge Station as she fled London, which included 28 pairs of stockings, 11 petticoats, a teapot, an apron and several items of bloodstained clothing.Together, the team ask why the buttoned-up Victorians had such an appetite for grisly tales of lust, crime and punishment. Are the same impulses behind today’s fascination with true crime? Can we respect Maria’s independent spirit and sharp mind, despite what she did? Does she deserve her place in history?Produced in partnership with the Open UniversityProducer: Sarah Goodman Readers: Meena Rayann and Jonathan Keeble Sound design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
10/01/24·29m 21s

Introducing Lady Killers Series 3

Lady Killers With Lucy Worsley is a smash hit historical true-crime podcast. Join Lucy and a team of female detectives as they investigate the ordinary lives - and extraordinary crimes - of women in the past from a contemporary feminist perspective. In this series, Lucy revisits the unthinkable crimes of murderesses including Mary Surratt, accused of conspiring to assassinate a U.S. President and Maria Manning the so-called ‘Lady Macbeth of Bermondsey’.Each episode focuses on a true story and sees Lucy take an in-depth look at the crime, how it was received at the time, and how it compares with what happens today. Throughout the series, she is joined by an all-female detective team to dig deeper into the social issues and circumstances that helped to create these murderesses. This series our guest detectives include: barristers, a psychiatrist, an indigenous rights advocate, a former U. S. Secret Service agent, and a best selling Gothic novelist.Along with our in house historian, Rosalind Crone, Lucy retraces the steps of women who kill from more than 100 years ago travelling across England and to Northern Ireland to take a peek at the lives of our Lady Killers. We also visit the U.S. and Australia.A whole new series of Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley is coming soon.Produced in partnership with the Open University.A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4.If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds: https://bbc.in/3M2pT0K
03/01/24·3m 34s

20. Is the law gender blind?

Lucy Worsley, Professor Rosalind Crone and lawyer and comedian Sikisa Bostwick-Barnes discuss the wicked crimes of the last four Lady Killers in this series. They examine their treatment by the criminal justice system and ask whether there are parallels with women’s experiences today. Together they examine gender, prejudice and racial bias.They explore the major changes for women over 100 years from 1823 to 1923. From raising hemlines to the campaign for women’s suffrage and opportunities in the world of work. They examine how changes in society filter through to the justice system, and reflect on the changing nature of how we consume information and the cult of celebrity - from early newspapers, pamphlets and cheap sheets to social media today. Producer: Emily Hughes Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia Hayball. A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
23/05/23·28m 51s

19. Jane Toppan - Serial Killer Nurse

Lucy Worsley investigates the historical crimes of women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In this episode, Lucy is joined by Dr Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University, to visit Massachusetts in New England, USA and discover how one nurse became a notorious serial killer. Jane Toppan is a well-respected and successful private nurse in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She spends her time moving from one family to another, caring for them until they either recover, or pass away. In June 1901, Jane gets a visit from her friend, Mattie Davis. But upon her arrival, Mattie falls ill. Jane takes care of her until she dies a week later. After this, Jane moves into the Davis family’s house to help them cope with the loss of their mother. But soon, one by one, the other members of the family die in quick succession. Jane is onto her next job, but suspicions are soon raised about the care she’s providing. She is followed secretly by a policeman as the bodies of the Davis family are exhumed and tested for poison. Traces of morphine and atropine – substances that Jane Toppan would have had access to in her role as a private nurse – are discovered and Jane is arrested. To help Lucy explore this case, historian Dr Elizabeth DeWolfe visits Massachusetts General Hospital Archives to discover what it was like to be a nurse at the turn of the 20th century. She also visits the Boston Public Library to see how the press reacted to the murderous nurse. Lucy and Katherine discuss Jane’s case and the impact it had on the relatively new profession of nursing. Lucy also wants to know how Jane Toppan compares to serial killers today.We think of nurses as caring, virtuous and we trust them with our life. Jane Toppan will make you think twice.Producer: Hannah Fisher Readers: Laurel Lefkow and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
19/05/23·28m 8s

18. Catherine Flannagan & Margaret Higgins

Lucy Worsley investigates the historical crimes of women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In this episode, Lucy is joined by award-winning crime writer Lynda La Plante CBE to investigate the case of two sisters, Catherine Flanagan and Margaret Higgins. They’re part of the Irish immigrant community in Liverpool, living near the docks in a crowded, working class area, doing many different jobs to make ends meet. Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University visits the Museum of Liverpool to find out what life would have been like for the sisters, tracing their steps as they moved around different houses in the area. By 1881, Catherine is a life insurance broker and also a widow. Margaret is married, but her husband, Thomas Higgins, falls ill and dies. Thomas has life insurance policies so, after his death, Margaret and Catherine receive a generous payment. But Thomas’ death doesn’t make sense to his brother Patrick, who calls for a post mortem. Traces of arsenic are detected in the body and Margaret is arrested. But as the police arrive, Catherine escapes. She disappears into the warren of Liverpool’s streets and ends up in the east of the city. After ten days on the run, Catherine is found and brought to trial with her sister. Did the sisters work together, or was one of them pressuring the other? Were the sisters actually part of a female syndicate, murdering people for monetary gain? Lucy asks how similar this is to investigations today. Do close knit communities in cities still help each other evade the police? Producer: Hannah Fisher Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
09/05/23·28m 12s

17. Marguerite Fahmy - Self-confessed Killer

Lucy Worsley takes a fresh look at an infamous shooting that took place at London’s Savoy Hotel, amid all the wealth and glamour of the Roaring ‘20s.On 10th July 1923, at the height of a violent thunderstorm, Marguerite Fahmy shoots her new husband at close range with a pistol – in the corridor, outside their opulent suite. It’s clear she’s killed him, but why? Lucy is joined by Nneka Akudolu KC, a barrister with 20 years’ experience of exactly this kind of complex case, and Lady Killers’ in-house historian Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University, to get to the bottom of this 100 year old mystery. Together, they untangle the complexities of Marguerite’s relationship with Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey, a super-rich Egyptian ‘playboy prince’. Ros goes to the scene of the crime to meet Savoy archivist Susan Scott and find out more about this notorious incident in the hotel’s history.The team discover that, while the coroner’s court returns a straightforward verdict of ‘wilful murder’, when Marguerite’s case comes to trial at the Old Bailey, the story gets a whole lot murkier. She is defended by legal legend Sir Edward Marshall Hall KC and cuts a tragic figure in the dock, glamorous and apparently bereft. She alleges that Ali was violently abusive and there is huge public sympathy for her plight, with her husband cast as a 'bestial' monster. Lucy, Nneka and Ros examine these claims and counterclaims to unpick the prejudice at work in the courtroom and ask if justice was served in this case.Would Marguerite’s story play out any differently today?Producer: Sarah Goodman Readers: Meena Rayann and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
01/05/23·28m 10s

16. Edith Thompson - Modern Woman on Trial

In this episode of Lady Killers, we travel back to the Roaring 20s as Lucy Worsley and guest detective Sasha Wass KC investigate how Edith Thompson, a woman who merely witnessed the violent killing of her husband, found herself on trial for his murder.Sasha Wass KC has taken on some of the legal system's most notable cases - involving Rosemary West, Rolf Harris and Johnny Depp. As a judge, prosecutor and defender, she has the benefit of understanding all dimensions of the criminal process, which is crucial when examining one of the most controversial cases of all time. It’s a trial that shook the nation. Edith Thompson, with her choppy bobbed hair and jaunty dresses is the quintessential ‘Flapper’. A working woman living in the rapidly expanding London suburb of Ilford, she’s one of the new commuters, travelling to her job at Carlton and Pryor (a wholesale milliners in the City of London), producers of some very fashionable hats. She teaches herself French and goes on buying trips to Paris. She spends her own money, frequenting theatres and dancing the nights away. But back in the suburbs, Lucy and Sasha discover how Edith Thompson lives another, less glamorous life with husband Percy. While Edith is embracing some of the new found freedoms of a 1920’s woman, Percy wants a more ‘traditional’ wife. Then, on the night of 3rd October 1922, their life together takes a very dramatic turn when Percy is fatally stabbed by a mysterious stranger. As Lucy and Sasha discuss the now infamous court hearing, historian Professor Rosalind Crone visits the Ilford streets where Edith lived and where our bloody murder took place, to discover what life was really like for our 1920’s ‘murderess’.Producer: Nicola Humphries Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
24/04/23·28m 23s

15. Women's Bodies. Women's Rights

In this episode of Lady Killers, Lucy Worsley, Professor Rosalind Crone and broadcaster Ayesha Hazarika discuss the first four cases - brothel-keeper Mary McKinnon, chocolate-cream killer Christiana Edmonds, enslaved woman Margaret Garner and abortionist Elizabeth Taylor. They examine legal prejudice, frustrated sexual desire, illegal abortion, and slavery.They explore women’s rights over their own bodies, and dig a little deeper into the parallels between women in the 19th century and women in contemporary society. Together they consider the extent to which progress can be taken for granted, and ask whether anything might have been better for women in the past than today. Producer: Emily Hughes Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
17/04/23·28m 40s

14. Mary McKinnon - Prejudice Against Sex Workers

In Lady Killers, Lucy Worsley investigates the crimes of 19th and early 20th century women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In this episode, Lucy is joined by Dr Anastacia Ryan, Founder of SISU, a Glasgow-based charity for women at risk and Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Glasgow, to explore the case of Mary McKinnon. Mary lives in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1820s, and runs a tavern on South Bridge. Except her tavern, like many at the time, has another side to it – it’s also a brothel. On 8th February 1823, Mary McKinnon is out having a drink with her friend, when she is called back to the inn as a group of men are causing trouble. She arrives to find a chaotic scene, and in the midst of the frenzy, one of the men is stabbed. He accuses Mary of stabbing him, yet she protests her innocence. Despite this, she’s arrested and put on trial. She faces animosity and judgment every step of the way. The judge even directs the jury to pay more heed to the evidence of the men who visited her tavern that night, than to the evidence of her fellow workers and other women. But did she do it? And did she face increased prejudice not only because she was a woman, but because she looked after sex workers? Lucy Worsley is also joined by Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University. Together, Anastacia and Rosalind visit the vaults under Edinburgh’s Old Town to see what Mary’s tavern would have been like in the 1820s. Lucy asks if the way society treats sex workers has changed since Mary’s time. Producer: Hannah Fisher Readers: Clare Corbett, Jonathan Keeble, Hannah Fisher, Katy Duff, Jacob Smyth and Fraser Coutts Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
10/04/23·29m 22s

13. Elizabeth Taylor - Serial Abortionist

Lucy Worsley looks at the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In this episode, Lucy is joined by Deborah Frances-White, women’s rights campaigner, comedian and host of The Guilty Feminist podcast, to explore the case of Elizabeth Taylor, a backstreet abortionist in late 19th century Melbourne, Australia who spent decades playing cat and mouse with the law. They consider Elizabeth Taylor’s story in the context of women’s rights in 19th century Australia and the subsequent campaign for legal, safe abortion around the world. Lucy is also joined by historian Rosalind Crone, Professor of History at the Open University, who has searched immigration, court and prison records to give new insights into Elizabeth Taylor’s life. When the Taylor family emigrates from Manchester to Melbourne, Australia in 1872, Elizabeth begins to advertise in the classified columns of the newspapers as a ‘midwife and ladies’ nurse’. These are thinly veiled adverts for her extremely profitable, and completely illegal, abortion clinic. Many desperate women with unwanted pregnancies find their way to her door. But sadly, not all of them survive the abortions Elizabeth Taylor performs and, over three decades, she is in and out of court - twice on murder charges and facing the death penalty. Lucy wants to know why Elizabeth Taylor worked for so many years as an illegal abortionist knowing that she was risking her own life. Was she acting out of compassion for desperate women or cashing in on their terrible situations? What light does her story shine on the abortion debate today, with the overthrow of Roe vs Wade in the USA? How much do 19th century views, and laws, about the rights of women over their bodies resonate now? What does the case of Elizabeth Taylor tell us about women’s lives in the late 19th century and women’s lives today?Producer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Susan Dean, Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
03/04/23·28m 53s

12. Margaret Garner - Icon of Tragedy & Resistance

Lucy Worsley looks at the crimes of women from the 19th and early 20th centuries from a contemporary, feminist perspective. Lucy explores the story of Margaret Garner, an enslaved mother in 1850s America, who commits a murder that transforms her into an icon of tragedy and resistance. Her life inspired Tony Morrison’s Pulitzer-winning novel Beloved. To explore Margaret Garner’s remarkable story and its contemporary resonances Lucy is joined by Nikki M Taylor, Professor of African American History at Howard University in Washington DC and the author of Driven Towards Madness: The Fugitive Slave Margaret Garner and Tragedy on the Ohio. Margaret Garner and her small four children are owned by a farmer in the slave state of Kentucky, and they live a tantalising 16 miles from Cincinnati in the free state of Ohio. Margaret and her husband Robert, who is enslaved on a nearby farm, decide to risk their lives, and the lives of their children, for a chance of freedom on the other side of the Ohio River. On the night of 27th January 1856, in temperatures close to -20 degrees celsius, the family escapes on a sleigh and, against the odds, they evade capture and make it across the frozen river to what they hope will be freedom and safety. But their owners are hard on their heels, and soon Margaret will have to give a terrible answer to the question ‘is slavery a fate worse than death?’. Lucy wants to know what life was like for Margaret as an enslaved woman, wife and mother. How can we hear the voices of enslaved women when they left so few records of their lives? What does Margaret’s story tell us about the lives of black women in America today? What effect did her story have on the abolitionist movement, and how can her story inform the fight against slavery and sex trafficking today?Producer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Moya Angela and Laurel Lefkow Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
27/03/23·29m 24s

11. Christiana Edmunds - Chocolate Cream Killer

Lucy Worsley looks at the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In the first case in her new series, Lucy explores the story of Christiana Edmunds, a respectable spinster who embarks on a mass poisoning spree when the man she loves fails to return her affection. Lucy is joined by Dr Gwen Adshead, a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has worked for many years at Broadmoor Hospital. Gwen offers fascinating insights into one of the most remarkable, and bizarre, cases of the Victorian era, a story of thwarted passion, lethal confectionery – and a very dangerous Lady Killer indeed. When Christiana Edmunds and her elderly mother move to Brighton after a series of family bereavements, Christiana develops a dangerous romantic obsession with her doctor, Charles Beard, bombarding him with love letters. Happily married with small children, he asks Christiana to leave him alone, and she takes drastic action: she tries to kill his wife Emily with a chocolate she has poisoned with strychnine. Emily survives but to cover her tracks Christiana comes up with a devious, clever and deadly plan. Rosalind Crone, Professor of History at the Open University, visits Brighton to explore how Christiana Edmunds procured her poison and presided over a reign of terror in the town in the early 1870s; and she goes to the Sussex County Archive to find out how the case gripped the public imagination and sent the press into a frenzy. Lucy wants to know what might have caused Christiana to become a stalker and a poisoner? Was she driven mad by the boredom of her middle-class spinster life or was she just clever and devious? What would a psychiatrist, and a court of law, make of her today? What does the case of Christiana Edmunds tell us about the lives of Victorian women, and about the lives of women today? Producer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean Series Producer: Julia HayballA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
20/03/23·29m 20s

Introducing Lady Killers Series 2

Lucy and a crack team of female detectives uncover new cases in Lady Killers series 2. Listen to all episodes first on BBC Sounds from Monday 20th March 2023.
13/03/23·2m 55s

Bonus episode: Lucy Worsley talks to Greg Jenner

Lucy talks to fellow historian Greg Jenner about "larking about" on the TV show Horrible Histories, how to triumph at a Tudor history quiz (visit a museum on the subject first!), working with your idols (Stephen Fry) and the process and extraordinary detail that goes into making You're Dead To Me. You can listen to Greg's podcast by searching for You're Dead To Me on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts.
29/07/22·14m 50s

10. Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know

In this final episode of Lady Killers, Lucy Worsley and Dr Rosalind Crone look back and discuss the last four cases and the issues and themes they share.Together they re-examine two of Britain’s most notorious serial killers, Amelia Dyer who’s thought to have killed hundreds of babies and children and Mary Ann Cotton who murdered three of her husbands and numerous children and step-children. Over in the United States they look back at Hannah Mary Tabbs, who killed her lover and back in London delve into the sad case of Esther Lack, the mother who murdered three of her own children.Lucy and Ros dig deeper into the social issues and circumstances that helped create these murderesses. They look back at an era when newspapers were booming and examine the part the press played in shaping the stories of these women and how they were presented to a scandal hungry public. With that in mind they chat through the new discoveries sweeping through society in terms of toxicology and new understandings around mental health. Finally they scrutinise all eight cases and ask, what has changed today that could have made a difference? Producer: Alex Baxter Sound design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·29m 31s

9. Hannah Mary Tabbs

Lucy Worsley investigates the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. This time, Lucy explores the case of Hannah Mary Tabbs, who was very good at being very bad. An African-American woman living in Philadelphia in the 1880s, Hannah Mary was arrested after the discovery of the headless, limbless torso of her lover, Wakefield Gaines. With the help of Philadelphian historian Annie Anderson, Lucy discovers what life was like for African-American women living in the city only two decades after the end of slavery. Social reformers, keen to promote their interests, encouraged black women to adopt high moral standards of temperance, modesty, deference, and strict sexual mores. But as Lucy discovers with Professor Kali Nicole Gross who has written a book about the case, Hannah Mary Tabbs was having none of this. She lived life on her own terms, blurring her identity, lying when it suited her and intimidating others to turn a blind eye to her affair with a man 10 years her junior. We hear Hannah Mary’s own words as she tried to talk her way out of trouble by attempting to shift blame to the man co-accused of killing her lover.To gain a contemporary perspective, Lucy and Kali ask how reliable the confessions extracted from black suspects by white police officers are, even now. To what extent is racial profiling relevant to this case? And what does this case say about the relationship between the black and white communities in the US?And, we find out what really happened to Wakefield Gaines at the hands of Hannah Mary Tabbs.Producer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Moya Angela and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·29m 51s

8. Esther Lack

Lucy Worsley investigates the crimes of 19th century women in the UK, North America and beyond from a contemporary, feminist perspective. Here, Lucy tells the story of the murderess Esther Lack and asks whether she was a cold-blooded child killer, or a loving mother driven to despair by poverty and ill health.In the early hours of the morning at the 22nd of August 1865 John Lack, a nightwatchman at a warehouse on the south bank of the River Thames, walked the short distance back to his home, three tiny, overcrowded rooms in a squalid alley called Skin Market Place, and discovered a scene of unimaginable horror. His wife Esther had taken his razor and cut the throats of their three youngest children, Christopher aged ten, Eliza aged six and baby Esther who was just two. Lucy visits London’s South Bank with historian Rosalind Crone to get a sense of Esther’s life and the desperate circumstances that led her to kill her own children. She had given birth to 12 children over 20 years and six of them, including a set of triplets, died in infancy. Friends and family described her as a decent woman and a loving mother, but she was nearly blind, and was suffering from fits and infections.To gain a contemporary perspective on the Esther Lack case, Lucy talks to Dr Gwen Adshead, a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has a particular interest in mothers who harm or kill their children. Lucy asks what might have been Esther’s state of mind when she committed this horrendous crime. Are mothers who kill their children usually mentally ill? What modern understanding of neonatal mental health can we bring to this case? And is there a link between poverty and harm to children that remains to this day?Producer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris Maclean A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·29m 8s

7. Mary Ann Cotton

Lucy Worsley investigates the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective.This time, Lucy visits County Durham in North East England, to reinvestigate the woman known as Britain’s first female serial killer. Mary Ann Cotton was accused of murdering her stepson in 1872, after telling the local grocer that she was sure her stepson will die soon. When her stepson died a few days later, the police were called in.Following a rushed post-mortem and inquest, Cotton seemed to have got away with it - his death was declared a case of natural causes. But more tests and a second post mortem revealed that her stepson had been poisoned. Mary Ann Cotton was arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to be hanged. She maintained her innocence right up until she was led to the gallows. Although convicted of one murder, historians now believe that Mary Ann Cotton killed up to 21 people. Lucy visits Beamish, the Living Museum of the North, to see the unsuspecting murder weapon, and Cotton’s former home in West Auckland, to see where she last lived.Alexandra Wilson, an author and barrister who has practiced in both family and criminal law, talks Lucy through the legal implications of the case, including whether she would represent Cotton today. Lucy asks if Mary Ann Cotton was a cold and calculated killer, or a desperate and vulnerable mother in need of an income from insurance payouts.Historian Rosalind Crone puts the story into the context of the Victorian era. Was Mary Ann Cotton just trying to better herself? And why was it so easy for her to remain undetected for so long?This is a case that highlights the domestic role of women and how they could, theoretically, get away with murder.Producer: Hannah Fisher Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·29m 13s

6. Amelia Dyer

Lucy Worsley investigates the ordinary lives and extraordinary crimes of Victorian women accompanied by a team of female detectives. This time, Lucy is on the case of a baby farmer who’s thought to have killed between 200 and 400 children, by strangling them and throwing the bodies in the River Thames.Baby farming was almost an acceptable practice in the 19th century, seen as a necessary solution to deal with the 50,000 babies that were born illegitimately each year. The shame and economic burden of caring for a child forced many unmarried mothers to enlist the services, for a fee, of a baby farmer, who promised a safe and loving home for infants. Tragically, some of them were unscrupulous, taking the money and getting rid of the children.Lucy is joined by former detective Jackie Malton, who was the inspiration for the TV series Prime Suspect, and in-house historian Rosalind Crone as they follow in the footsteps of the Victorian detectives who painstakingly tracked our baby killer.The case began with the discovery of a body in the river and Jackie and Ros revisit the scene of the crime. They also examine original evidence at the Thames Valley Police Museum, in Reading.Lucy asks what kind of society turned a blind eye to these baby farmers. And crucially, did women really have a choice, when their childcare options were so limited? This was a high profile case but did anything change as a result? And what happened to our baby killer?Producer: Julia Hayball Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound design: Chris Maclean A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·28m 33s

5. Getting Away With It

In this episode of Lady Killers, Lucy Worsley and Dr Rosalind Crone look back and discuss the first four cases and the issues and themes they share.Together they look again at the alleged poisoners Florence Bravo and Madeleine Smith, who were said to have killed their respective husband and lover. They delve deeper into the story of the American heiress Lizzie Borden, accused of murdering her father and stepmother and discuss the teenage servant, Grace Marks who was jailed for killing her master and his lover in Canada.They analyse the role class and gender may have played in these cases, look at why three out of the four were never found guilty of anything and discover how the choice of murder weapons was seen to reflect their gender and spark a national moral panic. Then Lucy and Ros turn their expertise onto the most important question of all, did they get away with murder? Producer: Alex Baxter Sound design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·28m 9s

4. Grace Marks

Lucy Worsley investigates the ordinary lives and extraordinary crimes of Victorian women. This story is about a young servant, Grace Marks, accused of two brutal murders that generated enormous attention in the new world of Upper Canada in 1843. In that time and in that place, murders were rare - and rarer still was a female murderer. Grace Marks and stable boy James McDermott went on the run, ending up in Lewiston, New York after their employers Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, Nancy were found dead. Grace insisted she didn't kill them and was forced by James McDermott to run away with him. But when Grace was arrested she was even wearing the clothing of the woman she was accused of murdering. Lucy examines the evidence, including duelling confessions from the accused, with the help of psychological scientist and host of the Bad People podcast, Dr Julia Shaw. They ask if the 16-year-old housemaid who had worked in five different houses in three years could be responsible for the violent killings.We also hear from historian Susan Houston from York University, Toronto, who has written about the case and discusses the legal and social environment that is stacked against Grace. In the case made famous by Margaret Atwood in Alias Grace, we speculate on what happened and ask if Grace would have been treated differently if she had more power. Or was she actually a naïve 16-year-old caught up in the doomed plot of a disgruntled stable boy? You decide….Producer: Sandra Bartlett Readers: Colleen Prendergast and William Hope Sound Design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·28m 28s

3. Lizzie Borden

On a hot August day in 1892, a wealthy Massachusetts couple, Andrew and Abby Borden, were hacked to death during broad daylight in their home in the small industrial city of Fall River. Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter from his first marriage, was arrested for double homicide. The trial gripped the nation – especially Victorian women who pack the courtroom to watch proceedings, in what one reporter described as a sea of calico and lace – referring to the female interest that bridges social divides. But what does a wealthy white woman accused of murder reveal about the growing immigrant population, swirling politics and dark underbelly of Fall River, New England and beyond? Was the trial as much a battle for what kind of America would dominate in an age of deep-seated tensions? Could a woman of such standing be allowed to be seen as culpable of such a crime? Why, despite an avalanche of circumstantial evidence pointing to Lizzie as the culprit, was she acquitted, only to be judged forever after as guilty by the court of public opinion and in the realms of American folklore?In this latest episode of Lady Killers, Lucy Worsley meets with journalist Erin Moriarty, who reinvestigates the case from a modern legal standpoint. They examine the differences in how women in such a case were treated back then, compared with what happens today. And lawyer and historian Cara Robertson - who has written a book on the case - tours Fall River, examining exhibits from the trial and visiting the Borden family house. We see how this case helps us understand the life of wealthy Victorian women, how they are perceived and their role in American society.Producer: Diane Hope Readers: Colleen Prendergast and William Hope Sound Design: Chris Maclean A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·28m 53s

2. Madeleine Smith

Lucy Worsley investigates the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In this episode, Lucy explores the case of a young lady called Madeleine Smith. Part of high society in Glasgow in the 1850s, she was living the ideal life, attending balls and concerts, promenading around the shopping districts and spending her summers at her family’s large country home. But she was hiding a shameful secret - a clandestine love affair with a man ten years her senior and well below her station. His name was Pierre Emile L’Angelier, a warehouse clerk from Jersey. They met, wrote letters to each other regularly, and soon their relationship turned intimate. But when he found out she was soon to be married to a suitable match arranged by her parents, things turned sour. While Madeleine was burning the letters she received from Pierre Emile, he kept hers and threatened to send them to her father to expose their relationship. In a panic, Madeleine begged to meet so he could return her letters. On the evening of 22nd March 1857, Pierre Emile left his lodgings, allegedly to visit Madeleine. When he returned home, he became ill and died of arsenic poisoning. Police traced Madeleine through an entry in his diary, and she was arrested. She was put on trial for his murder and her letters, intended only for the eyes of her lover, were read out for all to hear. Presenter Lucy Worsley is joined by award-winning crime writer Denise Mina to piece together this curious case. Was Madeleine a manipulative young woman who wanted a bit of fanciful fun before marriage? Or was she naïve and innocent, swept off her feet by a controlling older man? And was she guilty? Or was the outcome of her trial determined by her class, gender and societal expectations of women?Together with historian Rosalind Crone from the Open University, they visit the alleged scene of the crime to investigate if Madeleine could have possibly poisoned Pierre Emile L’Angelier that fateful evening in 1857. Lucy and Rosalind also visit some of Madeleine’s real letters at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow learning that, perhaps, a younger upper middle class Victorian lady may not have been as prim and proper as history would have us believe.Producer: Hannah Fisher Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/07/22·28m 49s

1. Florence Bravo

Lucy Worsley investigates the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. In the first case in the series, Lucy explores the story of Florence Bravo, the woman at the heart of one of the most sensational unsolved murder cases of the Victorian era, and asks whether she was a ruthless poisoner or an abused wife.Lucy visits The Priory, Florence Bravo’s grand house in Balham where, on 21st April 1876, after three days of agony, her young husband Charles died of poisoning. They had been married for only five months but the relationship was already under strain - Charles was jealous of the much older doctor Florence had been involved with before their marriage, he was frustrated that he had only limited control of her large fortune, both of them were drinking heavily, and Florence had suffered two miscarriages in close succession. Lucy meets historian Rosalind Crone at the nearby pub where an inquest was held into Charles Bravo’s death. This case became known as The Balham Mystery and was a Victorian media sensation, with pages of coverage every day in the respectable broadsheets, tabloids and penny dreadfuls. An intimidating, all-male environment, Lucy and Rosalind discover how the inquest into Florence’s husband’s death degenerated into an inquiry into her sexual morality, and they wonder what Victorian women made of Florence’s story. And we hear Florence’s own words as she tried to defend herself at the inquest into her husband’s death. To gain a contemporary perspective on the Florence Bravo case, Lucy talks to the leading barrister Sasha Wass QC, who has worked on many high-profile cases including those of Rosemary West, Johnny Depp and Rolf Harris. Lucy wants to know why Florence’s accusations about her husband’s cruelty were ignored by the inquest. Would Florence have been treated differently had there been women in the police force, in her legal team, on the jury and in the press? Why do women in criminal investigations continue to undergo ‘trial by media’?And, crucially, in a case that has never been solved, did she do it?If you like what you hear, the whole series will be available to listen to from the 25th of July wherever you listen to podcasts. Or you can hear it right now in the UK – before anywhere else – first on BBC Sounds.Producer: Jane Greenwood Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble Sound Design: Chris MacleanA StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
25/04/22·29m 8s

Welcome to Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley

Join Lucy Worsley and a team of female detectives as they investigate the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary, feminist perspective. If you like what you hear, the whole series will be available to listen to from the 25th of July wherever you listen to podcasts. Or you can hear it right now in the UK – before anywhere else – first on BBC Sounds.
20/04/22·3m 7s
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