14 episodes

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

Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley BBC Podcasts

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

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

    11. Christiana Edmunds

    11. Christiana Edmunds

    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 Hayball

    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4

    • 29 min
    Introducing Lady Killers Series 2

    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.

    • 2 min
    Bonus episode: Lucy Worsley talks to Greg Jenner

    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.

    • 14 min
    10. Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know

    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 Maclean

    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4

    • 29 min
    9. Hannah Mary Tabbs

    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 Maclean

    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4

    • 29 min
    8. Esther Lack

    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

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

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