TRIAL OF CHRISTIANA EDMUNDS
edited by Kate Clarke
The date is 1871 and the setting for this extraordinary case is Brighton, the fashionable resort on the south coast.
One of its residents was Christiana Edmunds, a forty-three year old spinster who, already emotionally fragile, became besotted with her doctor, Charles Izard Beard. Convinced it would further her amorous designs, she attempted to get rid of the doctor’s wife by offering her a chocolate cream laced with poison. But the lady found the confection so bitter she spat it out.
Desperate to divert suspicion from herself and throw the blame on the confectioner who had been duped into selling her the chocolates, Christiana embarked on a reckless poisoning spree ‒ firstly distributing poisoned chocolate creams around the town, and then sending parcels of contaminated fruit, cakes and sweets to various prominent residents of Brighton, including Mrs Beard. Tragically, this course of action inadvertently resulted in the death of four year old Sidney Barker, who had been enjoying a seaside holiday with his family.
At her trial for murder at the Old Bailey in January 1872 she was found Guilty and sentenced to be hanged, although the sentence was subsequently respited on the ground of insanity. She spent the remainder of her life in Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, dying there in 1907.
In Trial of Christiana Edmunds, Kate Clarke offers a detailed and insightful study of this remarkable case, delving into the fascinating world of Victorian criminal justice as it grappled with definitions of good and evil, sanity and madness. This volume reproduces several previously neglected first-hand accounts of meetings with Christiana Edmunds in Broadmoor.
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 in preparation.