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

Kate Colquhoun

Published on: 06/03/2014

Genre: ,


The sensational murder trial of Florence Maybrick that gripped Victorian society.

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?

Praise for Did She Kill Him?:

‘Kate Colquhoun’s account of the Maybrick case is brilliantly detailed – her knowledge of the uses and misuses of poison would put that of many pharmacists to shame’ – Rachel Cooke, Observer

‘The case is thrilling, the trial harrowing and Colquhoun does them justice’ – Laura Freeman, Daily Mail

‘Kate Colquhoun’s fascinating history . . . critiques thoroughly and carefully the attitudes of the time’ – Scotsman

‘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



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About the author:

Kate Colquhoun

Kate Colquhoun’s previous non fiction titles were shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize 2004 and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. As well as writing for several newspapers and magazines, she appears regularly on national radio and television. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.


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