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Nell Darby, 'The Hampstead Murder: Subversion in Press Portrayals of a Murderess', 5-20

Article

Published onFeb 01, 2018
Nell Darby, 'The Hampstead Murder: Subversion in Press Portrayals of a Murderess', 5-20

Abstract
The murders of Phoebe Hogg and her toddler daughter by Mary Eleanor Piercey, the lover of Phoebe’s husband, in London in 1892 subverted the usual Victorian press conventions surrounding a female killer. Whereas such women were commonly depicted as monsters, representing ‘the other’ and portrayed as plain, even masculine, creatures, Mary Eleanor was presented in romanticised terms, her good looks contrasted with the more masculine looks of her female victim. This article looks at how, and why, the coverage of this murderess differed, asks whether this case should make us re-evaluate how cases involving female killers were covered by the newspapers, and assesses whether press coverage of this particular case reflected a change in the nature of British journalism from a desire to educate readers, to an increasing desire to entertain them.

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