The Poisoner tells the story of William Palmer, hanged in 1856 before a crowd of 30,000 people for the murder of his best friend. An outwardly respectable Midlands doctor from a prosperous family, Palmer and his trial were a media sensation, heightening middle class fears about the insidiousness of poisoning as a new method of murder. Palmer was the first person ever to be convicted of using strychnine as a method of murder. He became known as the Prince of Poisoners, suspected of murdering at least a dozen people and Charles Dickens, who covered his case, described him as the greatest villain who ever stood trial in the Old Bailey. Even Queen Victoria followed the story, as her journal shows. But how many people did he really kill - and was his guilt ever proved? Stephen Bates's original research into the 160-year-old notorious murder case uncovered intriguing new information about the story.
Stephen Bates is a journalist, broadcaster and writer. In a 36 year career he worked for among others the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and, for 22 years, for the Guardian for whom he still writes occasionally. He is the author of eight books, mainly on history and current affairs: the most recent being Royalty Inc: Britain's Best-Known Brand, about the Royal Family as an institution, partly based on covering them for 12 years for the Guardian. His book on William Palmer: The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor was shortlisted for the Best Non-Fiction Crime award at the Malice Domestic conference in the US in 2015.
In the 1840s the popular image of a typical poisoner was a woman who put arsenic in her husband’s food. The 1850s, however, saw a new kind of poisoner come to public attention. Male, middle class, educated, disarmingly respectable, he killed in a clever scientific fashion, often using the less common kinds of poison, and unusual ways of administration. He might even be a medical man, the very person one was supposed to trust, giving poison to his trusting victim in the guise of medicine. Linda Stratmann will describe the sensational trials that alerted the public to what appeared to be a frightening new threat. As poison trials became more complex, expert witnesses, especially the forensic toxicologists who had become courtroom stars, began to find that a day in court could both make and destroy a promising career.
Linda Stratmann is the author of thirteen non-fiction books mainly about true crime, but also including a history of chloroform, a study of the Illustrated Police News and an acclaimed biography of the Marquess of Queensberry. The Secret Poisoner chronicles the efforts of science and the law to tackle poison murder in the nineteenth century. A Victorian fiction series, the Frances Doughty mysteries, is set in Bayswater and features a determined young female sleuth, who has to combat both wily criminals and prejudice against lady detectives. The seventh in the series A True and Faithful Brother will be published in March. Linda is currently writing the third book in a new fiction series, set in 1870s Brighton, whose heroine Mina Scarletti is a writer of ghost stories who exposes the activities of fraudulent spirit mediums.
Thank you to Frogg Moody, Adam Wood, Steve Ratty, Linda Stratmann and Stephen Bates for making these two recordings from the Poison and Poisoners event possible.
Thank you so much for these!!! what a great way to start my work week....amazing--- thank you Frogg Moody, Adam Wood, Steve Ratty, Linda Stratmann and Stephen Bates... and a BIG THANK YOU Jonathan for getting these out for us!!
"The truth is what is, and what should be is a fantasy. A terrible, terrible lie that someone gave to the people long ago."- Lenny Bruce