36 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
    • 4.7 • 371 Ratings

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

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    30. Difficult Women

    30. Difficult Women

    Lucy Worsley and Rosalind Crone are joined by Helen Lewis, author of ‘Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights.’ They discuss what it means to be a difficult woman and why the airbrushing of feminist history can be problematic.
    Together they discuss four of the most difficult women across the Lady Killers series; Mary Surratt, Alice Mitchell, Mary Ann Brough and Maria Manning. Each one commits wild and unspeakable crimes. They are anti-heroines; breaking taboos around sexuality, motherhood and sexual relationships. Lucy, Ros and Helen explore the value of understanding the diversity of women's lives in the past, and how this enables us to get a little bit closer to understanding ourselves.
    Produced in partnership with the Open University.
    Producer: Emily Hughes.
    Sound design: Chris Maclean
    Series Producer: Julia Hayball.
    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
    New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K

    • 28 min
    29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose

    29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose

    Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.
    In this episode, Lucy is joined by Alexandra Wilson, a barrister specialising in criminal and family law and author of ‘In Black and White’, to explore the case of Mary Ann Brough in 1854.
    Mary Ann lives in the picturesque county of Surrey, close to London. She’s married to George, who lives and works at the stately home nearby, while Mary Ann stays at home looking after six of their children. It sounds like an idyllic family life. But there are cracks beneath the surface. George suspects Mary Ann of having an affair and even hires a private detective to follow her to see if his suspicions are correct.
    After the detective reports back, George confronts Mary Ann and declares he will be starting legal proceedings to take full custody of their children. After he leaves, Mary Ann puts the children to bed, but later that evening she commits a drastic act. She slits the throats of each of her children before trying to kill herself.
    She is discovered the next day still alive, fully admitting to what she did. But why did she do it? Was it a cloud of insanity that took over her in a flash? Or was it to stop her husband gaining custody of the children and taking them away?
    Lucy Worsley is also joined by Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University. Together, they visit the village Mary Ann lived in and the stately estate nearby. In the studio with Alexandra Wilson they discuss the circumstances surrounding Mary Ann’s crime and how the custody laws at the time may have impacted her actions.

    Lucy asks, has the way society treats custody disputes changed since Mary Ann’s time and does it view each parent equally?

    Produced in partnership with the Open University.
    Producer: Hannah Fisher
    Readers: Clare Corbett, Jonathan Keeble
    Singer: Olivia Bloore
    Sound design: Chris Maclean
    Series Producer: Julia Hayball
    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
    New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K

    • 28 min
    28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

    28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

    Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.
    In this episode Lucy is joined by Cameron Esposito, stand-up comic, actor, writer and host of the hit podcast Queery. They investigate the case of 19-year-old Alice Mitchell who killed 17-year-old Freda Ward in Memphis, Tennessee in 1892 after a stormy and illicit relationship.
    Alice and Freda plan to marry and move to St Louis, but when Freda’s family discover their relationship, she comes under enormous pressure to end it.
    Alice Mitchell’s subsequent actions caused a nationwide sensation and influenced the way lesbians were perceived by the press and the public for decades.
    Lucy is also joined by the historian Alexis Coe, author of Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis, who helps Lucy uncover exactly what drove Alice to kill the woman she loved.
    Lucy wants to know what this case tells us about women’s lives in the southern states of America at the end of the 19th century, particularly the lives of LGBTQ+ women, and what it tells us about queer women’s lives in America now.
    Today in Tennessee the LGBTQ+ community feels under increasing threat with legislation banning books in schools which portray gay or trans people and bans on drag acts. Lucy asks the drag artist and activist Magical Miss Mothie to find out more from members of the community during their annual Pride festival in the city.
    The story of Alice and Freda is complex and disturbing, and it culminates in the destruction of two young lives. But it reminds us that queer people have always been there and always will be; in the teeth of opposition from everyone around her Alice refused to see why she should not live her life with the woman she loved.
    Produced in partnership with the Open University
    Producer: Jane Greenwood
    Readers: Clare Corbett, Bill Hope and Laurel Lefkow
    Sound design: Chris Maclean
    Series Producer: Julia Hayball
    Executive Producer: Kirsty Hunter
    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
    New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K

    • 28 min
    27. Sarah Bird - Cruel Employer

    27. Sarah Bird - Cruel Employer

    Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.
    Lucy Worsley travels to Buckland Brewer, Devon, to investigate the death of a young servant girl on a remote farm. Far from bucolic idyll with roses around the door, this is the location of a grizzly crime where a teenage girl, Mary-Ann Parsons, is found dead, her emaciated body horribly bruised and battered.
    Guest Detective Baroness Helena Kennedy, a leading barrister and expert on human rights and modern slavery, joins Lucy to examine the crime. The alleged Lady Killer is Sarah Bird, a young farmer’s wife and the mother of four children. Could she really be capable of this brutal murder?
    Together with Lady Killers’ in-house historian Professor Rosalind Crone, the team examines how Mary-Ann Parsons comes to work as a Parish Apprentice at Gawland Farm, and how a toxic culture of abuse becomes the norm. With a wealth of experience in modern slavery, Baroness Helena Kennedy unpicks how people become trapped in domestic servitude today and what it takes to turn someone into an enslaver.
    Produced in partnership with the Open University.
    Producer: Emily Hughes
    Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble
    Sound design: Chris Maclean
    Series Producer: Julia Hayball.
    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
    New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K

    • 28 min
    26. Mary Surratt - Assassinating a President

    26. Mary Surratt - Assassinating a President

    Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.
    In this episode Lucy is joined by Evy Poumpouras, former special agent with the Secret Service, where she protected five US presidents as part of the Presidential Protective Division.
    Lucy and Evy investigate the case of Mary Surratt, a 42 year-old widow, mother and pious Catholic who was arrested in April 1865 for conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. He had been shot by former actor John Wilkes Booth while watching a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. One of the most sensational trials in US history followed, with prosecutors pushing for death sentences for everyone involved in the murder.
    Lucy and Evy want to find out why the authorities were so sure that Surratt was involved in the assassination. They want to know what her story tells us about the lives of women at the close of the American Civil War. And they ask what happens when women step outside the domestic sphere and dare to get involved in protest and politics?
    To find out more about the background to the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination, Lucy asks Dr Nikki M Taylor, Professor of History at Howard University Washington DC, to go to Ford’s Theatre and to the Surratt House Museum, formerly Mary’s Surratt’s tavern in Maryland. Mary Surratt, she discovers, was a slave-holder and, like John Wilkes Booth, was horrified by Lincoln’s intention to end slavery and enfranchise African Americans.
    Mary Surratt is an elusive and divisive woman. Lucy wants to know if she was a devoted mother attempting to make her way in the world - or a hard-hearted conspirator, a slave-holder and fanatical Confederate trying to reignite the civil war.
    Produced in partnership with the Open University
    Producer: Jane Greenwood
    Readers: Bill Hope, Jonathan Keeble and Laurel Lefkow
    Sound design: Chris Maclean
    Series Producer: Julia Hayball
    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
    New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K

    • 27 min
    25. Women on Trial

    25. Women on Trial

    Lucy Worsley, Professor Rosalind Crone and barrister Nneka Akudolu KC take a look behind the scenes of Lady Killers.
    They shine a light on the detective work required to build the cases of these infamous murderesses, how evidence is pieced together, and how we can hear what these Victorian women are really trying to tell us about their lives.
    Nneka shares insights into her work specialising in complex crimes: murder, drug trafficking and serious sexual offences, and how she uses evidence to build a case in the courtroom.
    Produced in partnership with the Open University.
    Producer: Emily Hughes
    Sound design: Chris Maclean
    Series Producer: Julia Hayball.
    A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
    New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes: http://bbc.in/3M2pT0K

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
371 Ratings

371 Ratings

Lol. Lol ,

Have loved all but one.

I absolutely love this show except for the Alice Mitchell episode, which I couldn’t even finish. Please, please stick to having historians, forensic experts, and criminal attorneys etc. on. I was so disappointed that for an episode about a lesbian couple that you chose an activist. Her commentary was a complete opinion piece and strayed from your usual formula. She sounded unprofessional, and this seemed more like a political piece than an episode of Lady Killers.

jsndbdd d ,

pro-choice is the American way

contrary to what the snowflakes in the comments want you to think. a majority of us support the right to choose.

love the show.

Kris1900000 ,

Cringe

While admirably trying to understand women’s sad plight a hundred years ago. The historian seems to bypass some very heinous actions in order to say women had it rough. I agree but that does not mean ignore murder and domestic abuse to a lesbian woman in order to say isn’t it too bad she didn’t have a chance to be a lesbian and out in society. Just awful

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