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Head of Zeus
Rex v Edith Thompson
08 Mar 2018 * EBOOK * £6.99 * 9781784976095

The case of Edith Thompson and her lover Frederick Bywaters, both hanged for murder in 1923.

Non Fiction / BTC (True Crime)
Extent: 448 pages  Illus: 8pp b&w illustrations
Exclusive: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG   Not for sale: CA US
A Different Class of Murder
A Different Class of Murder
Heiresses
Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford The Biography
Take Six Girls
Also by Laura Thompson
Rex v Edith Thompson: A Tale of Two Murdersby Laura Thompson

'Another dark parable of society's vilification of women. Intelligent ... A tantalizing investigation' Kate Colquhoun.

On the night of 3 October 1922, in the quiet suburb of Ilford, Edith Thompson and her husband Percy were walking home after an evening spent at a London theatre, when a man sprang out of the darkness and stabbed Percy to death. The assailant was Frederick Bywaters, a twenty-year-old merchant seaman who had been Edith's lover. When the police learned of his relationship with Edith, she was arrested as his accomplice, despite protesting her innocence. The remarkably intense love letters Edith wrote to Freddy – some of them couched in ambiguous language – were read out at their trial for murder at the Old Bailey. They would seal her fate: Edith and Freddy were hanged for the murder of Percy Thompson in January 1923. Freddy was demonstrably guilty; but was Edith truly so?

In shattering detail and with masterful emotional insight, Laura Thompson charts the course of a liaison with thrice-fatal consequences, and investigates what the trial and execution of Edith Thompson tell us about perceptions of women in early twentieth-century Britain.

Laura Thompson is the author of several critically acclaimed works of non-fiction. Her first book The Dogs: A Personal History of Greyhound Racing won the Somerset Maugham Award. Rex V. Edith Thompson: A Tale of Two Murders was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger Award. She has written biographies of Nancy Mitford and Agatha Christie, A Different Class of Murder about the Lord Lucan scandal, The Last Landlady about her grandmother, and the New York Times-bestselling Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters.

The story of a fascinating case told by a master biographer.

Topical: a woman is portrayed falsely in the press and at her trial and wrongly executed.

Author on festival and press circuit.


'In this compelling book you enter [Edith's] world, root for her, and come out filled with rage and dismay at a society that showed her no mercy' Evening Standard

'Laura Thompson has written a stunning, passionate and unforgettable book which will hopefully bring some balance to the story of Edith Thompson and Freddy Bywaters' Shiny New Books

'Extraordinarily gripping: by turns titillating, moving, shocking, and in its final pages, producing feelings of sickened revulsion in this reader' TLS

'The Thompson-Bywaters case was one of the most lurid murder trials of the Twenties. Edith Thompson and her young love Freddy Bywaters were hanged for the murder of Edith's husband, but Laura Thompson argues passionately that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice' Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year

'The author brilliantly evokes a world significantly different from our own in many ways – while remaining very much the same in others – and the organisation of her material is really impressive' Crime Review

'The precursor to the Villa Madeira murder. The prewar justice system exacts terrible retribution on a woman who had the temerity to take a young lover' The Times

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