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The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane

The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane

A Victorian Murder. A Victorian Madman. A Modern Judgement.

Gateshead, April 1866

Five-year-old Sarah Melvin was walking along Split Crow Lane looking for her father when she disappeared. Later that night a couple walking home from the pub tripped over her body.

Sarah was the child of Irish immigrants who had been drawn to the North-east in search of work. Poor, perceived with prejudice, they quickly came under suspicion of killing their own child.

The true murderer was a misfit whose social awkwardness stopped him ever rising above apprentice. He would eventually make clear exactly why he killed Sarah – and the reason would scandalise the whole country, yet to him had a dreadful logic.

Told here for the first time, this is an extraordinary story of sexual deviance and murder, offering a chance to reassess a most unexpected judgement with new insight. In lively, empathic prose, Jane Housham explores psychiatry, the justice system and the media in mid-Victorian England to reveal a surprisingly modern state of affairs.

Genre: Biography & True Stories

On Sale: 3rd November 2016

Price: £20

ISBN-13: 9781786481580


Gripping - reveals a society in moral turmoil
William Shaw
Well-written and excellently researched, this chilling tale of a Victorian sex murder opens out into an investigation into the workings of the lunatic mind and the asylums which treat it
Julie Peakman
This was a fascinating read, particularly for those who are interested in Victorian provision of the criminally insane . . . She also gives us a flavour of the population of the time, of the haves and the have-nots and really conjures up details of the place where the crime was committed in astonishing detail . . . enlightening and clear-sighted
Cleopatra Loves Books
Housham is a dogged researcher and evocative writer. She sheds a powerful light on the era, skilfully describing the febrile, lawless atmosphere of 1860s Gateshead
Jenny McCartney, Mail on Sunday