Dominic Sandbrook

Did She Or Didn’t She?

‘The Most Remarkable Woman in England’: Poison, Celebrity and the Trials of Beatrice Pace


Manchester University Press 269pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

On the afternoon of 6 July 1928, a Gloucester jury acquitted Beatrice Pace of murdering her husband. When this thin, pale woman left the court, a vast crowd, estimated by some observers as 10,000 strong, cheered her every step. ‘The word went forth from mouth to mouth,’ gushed The People. ‘Men and women yelled it to one another, and the people came running until the street was choked by thousands of howling men and women.’ When her barrister emerged, he could barely get through the crowds, so keen were they to thump him triumphantly on the back. Staid, quiet Gloucester had never seen anything like it. The trial of Mrs Pace, wrote one commentator, had been ‘one of the most sensational dramas of life and death ever staged in this country, culminating in the most dramatic murder trial of recent times’.

Today, of course, Beatrice Pace is almost completely forgotten. It is to John Carter Wood’s credit, therefore, that in this splendid piece of historical detective work he not only brings her story alive but casts new light on the life of England

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