Constance Kent and the “Great Crime of 1860,” Lecture and Book Signing, Wendy Walker, author of “Blue Fire”

Wendy Walker Blue Fire

Wendy Walker Blue Fire Book Cover

Date: Monday, December 14
Time: 8:00 pm (Doors at 7)
Admission: $5
Lecture and book-signing of her book Blue Fire; a Morbid Anatomy event presented in conjunction with Proteotypes and Proteus Gowanus

A talking tour by Wendy Walker, author of Blue Fire, a new work that reexamines the unsolved case of Constance Kent, protagonist at 15 of the Road Hill House Murder.  Accused of killing her three-year-old half-brother and stuffing his body down the privy at the family estate in Wiltshire, Constance was cleared at the coroner’s inquest.  In the view of many at the time, the boy had been killed by his father and his nurse, surprised in bed.  Yet five years later, under the influence of a priest, Constance confessed to the crime. The “Great Crime of 1860” and the trial of Constance Kent constituted a watershed in the history of police investigation, forensic medicine, journalistic practice and and British criminal law. It caused riots in the streets and rocked the Anglican Church. It was the ancestor of the country house murder mystery and directly inspired both Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone and Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood, as well as the first true-crime book, The Great Crime of 1860 by Joseph Stapleton.  It has been novelized, dramatized, televised and filmed, and recounted from various angles, most recently by Kate Summerscale in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2008).

The enigmatic figure at the center of this story confessed to a crime she did not commit, was condemned to death, spent twenty years in prison, and went on to a career of almost sixty years as a nurse and social activist.  This talk with images will trace the three stages of her long life.

1 comment to Constance Kent and the “Great Crime of 1860,” Lecture and Book Signing, Wendy Walker, author of “Blue Fire”

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags