Andrew Lycett

‘Drink Up, Dear’

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain was Poisoned at Home, Work, & Play

By

Oxford University Press 412pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Behind their sentimental image, the Victorians were brutally down to earth. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, irate husbands in Essex, the county with the highest murder rate in Britain, could be heard threatening to ‘whitechapel’ their spouses, who would reply with Banshee promises to ‘white powder’ them.

‘Whitechapel’ referred to the district in the East End of London recently devastated by Jack the Ripper, while ‘white powder’ summoned up arsenic, the poison that was being recognised, only belatedly, as a deadly killer, both in the home and wider environment.  

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Jeremy Clarke on Red and White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine by ,
    • 'Englishmen Abroad in the Reign of Henry VIII'. Free lecture by Dr Susan Brigden, Thurs 18 Oct, 6.30pm Europe Hou… ,
    • It 'contains twists and near misses and bit-part players, everything you might expect from a true-crime story'. Ian… ,
    • Oh normally a week or two before the ceremony itself - so mid-November. ,
    • Ian Sansom reviews The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by… ,
    • 'It is hard to think of an economist who could craft such an elegantly readable account of postwar failure as this.… ,
    • Frederick Forsyth reviews The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by ,