Friday, July 12, 2013

Judith Flanders

From Lenny Picker's Publishers Weekly Q & A with Judith Flanders about her new book, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime:

What prompted you to write this book?

I was interested in how the conditions of the 19th century led to the prolifer­ation of interest in murder and how it transformed crimes into entertain­ment. Britain was unique in that it was the first industrialized country (leading to the cre­ation of vast urban centers, where for the first time in history, many people lived among total strangers) and it had the first railways (which led to more strangers mov­ing about the coun­try). Rapid technolog­ical developments like newspapers and then the telegraph allowed news to be more swiftly transported around the coun­try; the formation of the first civil police interested writers like Dickens, and led to the creation of the detective story; and [at the beginning of the 1800s, Britain] had a very low murder rate, which meant most people felt very safe, and were thus ready to be entertained by murder, be it in fiction, theater, broadsides, puppet shows, or exhibitions.

What surprised you the most during the research?

Victorian racehorse owners frequently named...[read on]
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--Marshal Zeringue