The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones and other Victorian Scandals by Michelle Morgan

Published by Robinson on 12th April 2018


A grisly book dedicated to the crimes, perversions and outrages of Victorian England, covering high-profile offences – such as the murder of actor William Terriss, whose stabbing at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre in 1897 filled the front pages for many weeks – as well as lesser-known transgressions that scandalised the Victorian era.

The tales include murders and violent crimes, but also feature scandals that merely amused the Victorians. These include the story of a teenage man who married an actress, only to be shipped off to Australia by his disgusted parents; and the Italian ice-cream man who only meant to buy his sweetheart a hat but ended up proposing marriage instead. When he broke it off, his fiancée’s father sued him and the story was dubbed the ‘Amusing Aberdeen Breach of Promise Case’. Also present is the gruesome story of the murder of Patrick O Connor who was shot in the head and buried under the kitchen flagstones by his lover Maria Manning and her husband, Frederick. The couple’s subsequent trial caused a sensation and even author Charles Dickens attended the grisly public hanging.

Drawing on a range of sources from university records and Old Bailey transcripts to national and regional newspaper archives, Michelle Morgan’s research sheds new light on well-known stories as well as unearthing previously unknown incidents.


My thoughts:

This book was provided by the publisher free of charge in exchange for a fair and honest review.


The Victorians, straight-laced and up-tight, so much so that they covered the legs of pianos in order to stop people becoming sexually excited, at least that’s what we have been told – well they did cover the piano legs but there was a darker side to our Victorian ancestors one that is steeped in blood.

Michelle Morgan examines several murders and scandals in her latest book, from the murder of actor William Terriss to the battered body of the title and more and she does it with her usual style and flair and for those of you who think that no book is complete with out Jack the Ripper there is a nod to him and his crimes as well.

As with all of Morgan’s work she does not impose her own feelings and conclusions on theses cases, if a story seems incomplete it’s because there is no further information on that particular case. She does not condemn the guilty, that was done by the courts and newspapers of the day, instead she lays out the facts for us. We could find out this information ourselves it is public record, but we don’t we are too lazy to put in the many hours that Morgan has clearly put into retelling these stories.

Beautifully written they will make you want to conduct your own research into your family history to see if you have any such scandals hiding, especially when you learn that one of the tales involves one of her own ancestors.

A great book to either read from cover to cover or dip into every now and then, this is another great title to add to your true crime collection or even your Michelle Morgan one!


About Andrea Pryke

I have been collecting Marilyn Monroe items since 1990 and the collection includes around 400 books, as well as films, documentaries, dolls, records and all sorts of other items
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