TRIALS OF PASSION


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Number: 62
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TRIALS OF PASSION

LISA APPIGNANESI    Book Number: 85072    Product format: Hardback

Lively accounts of three trials, one each in Britain, France and America, set between 1870 and 1914, a time when psychiatry was beginning to be taken seriously and emotions were discussed. Not only in court but by avid readers of newspapers, agog at the latest indiscretions committed in the name of passion. Christiana Edmunds had become infatuated with Dr Charles Beard, a married man. Both lived in Brighton. In 1871 several families in the town received boxes of sweets and preserved fruits containing poison, and amongst the recipients were Charles and Emily Beard. Charles regularly received letters from Christina, who had a fixation for him. Although Emily didn't eat the sweets she had given a cake to her housekeeper, who was quickly taken ill. Two months before, a young boy had died after eating chocolate, and Christina had come forward and told the police that she too had been made ill after purchasing chocolate from the same source. This time she claimed to have been ill after receiving poisoned fruit. Dr Beard was suspicious and took a bundle of the letters to the police, and eventually Christina was arrested on suspicion of poisoning. The trial centred on hysteria, sexuality, false declarations of pregnancy and madness, giving the still somewhat repressed Victorian citizens plenty to gloat over. She was pronounced insane and sent to Broadmoor. The other two cases described here, one the case of Marie Bière in France, the other the paranoia of a millionaire in Manhattan, also focus on the elements of crimes of passion. As psychiatric evidence took hold it led to emotions such as jealousy, sexual yearning and desires being discussed during trials of women prisoners. 434pp. B/w illus.
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ISBN 9781605988146
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Number: 62
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