Just Tell Me There Is No Murder Poetry Now...

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock - Lucy Worsley

This is one of those books I enjoy a lot (still not done yet) but wonder if others would like it as much. Mainly because Worsley doesn't go into minute details on all of the historic murders themselves - you get the what was done and how - but she's focusing more on the social reactions, not just the crime. Which is fine because she also leads you to other books that will give you more detail if you're interested. (I was kinda gleeful that I'd already read some she cited. I'm such a history fangirl.) And there's always wikipedia for a quick review.


Which brings me to the 1823 Elstree Murder, or Radlett Murder. (Elstree had other murders, so you can see the need to clarify.) And this poem/song:


They cut his throat from ear to ear,
His head they battered in.
His name was Mr William Weare,
He lived in Lyons Inn.


Whatever you think of the tabloid/internet press today, at least it's not posting little songs for us all to sing about the latest murders. Which, in the age where not everyone could read, street ballads (broadsides) would do for you. You'd nip into the street (or send your child, servant, etc.), purchase a copy, and then be able to learn it and sing it to an already known tune. Which you could then share at the pub or, I dunno, sing around the family hearth? I've read a bit about street ballads but besides the pubs and streets I'm not sure where you'd end up singing them. Meanwhile, now we have youtube, but thankfully I've never bumped into any area where folk are singing current-day murder songs. (Moment of gratitude here.)


If you want to check out the contents of this book via Worsley's documentary on the subject, I'd definitely encourage you to try it - it's the gist of what the text covers. (And again BBC, I'd pay money to watch this stuff, but it's always years later that it pops up on PBS here in the states.) This search should lead you to it: Lucy Worsley English Murder (The bit about street ballads is in part one.)


Bookwise I'm still on the section where she's discussing the Golden Age of Mystery Writers, specifically the women. And enjoying it hugely. Huzzah for self-gifted books!