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edited by David Green

On 24 August 1867, the remains of eight-year-old Fanny Adams were discovered in a hop field close to her home in Alton, Hampshire. She had been decapitated and horribly mutilated; her limbs and internal organs were scattered over a wide area. It was butchery on a truly colossal scale.

Local solicitor’s clerk Frederick Baker was quickly apprehended and committed for trial at the winter assizes in Winchester. Few people doubted that he was solely responsible for the murder of little Fanny Adams.

Baker was a decidedly odd character, often seen skulking around town exhibiting a range of morbid and eccentric behaviours. His corpse-white complexion and black top hat composed his trademark appearance. This book charts his upbringing, his family life and career, and his depraved emotional and sexual impulses, fully exploring his progression from a weak and sensitive child to a swaggering, intemperate monster.

Legal opinion was divided: was Baker mentally deranged, or was he a cunning, cold-blooded and wicked individual fully in command of his faculties? These issues would be examined in the courtroom, and in a sense, medical science itself, with its new ideas about psychological disease, homicidal mania and criminal responsibility, was also on trial. 

The defence offered a confusing and contradictory double plea of Not Guilty but also Guilty and Insane. The jury rejected both defences, and Baker was hanged outside Winchester prison on Christmas Eve in front of a large crowd.

Baker has received remarkably little attention in the extensive literature on Victorian crime. Drawing on Home Office files and making use of a wide selection of local history materials, Trial of Frederick Baker tells for the first time the full story of the murder of Fanny Adams and the trial and conviction of one of Britain’s most appalling villains.

David Green lives in Hampshire, where he works as a freelance book indexer. He is the author of The Havant Boy Ripper (Mango Books, 2018), an account of the unsolved murder of Percy Searle in 1888.

Mango Books has been granted exclusive permission by William Hodge Holdings to use the official series imprint, and Trial of Israel Lipski was the first new title to be added to the official series since 1959, bearing the volume number 85.

Further volumes are currently in preparation.