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London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story

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A sensational story of murder, trial and public revenge influenced the great writers and commentators of the day. As much a book about London as the story of a murder books about London sell. Full of fascinating detail about mid-Victorian London in the vein of Peter Ackroyd social history at its best. Features a famous cast of characters that includes Dickens and Marx. Adve A sensational story of murder, trial and public revenge influenced the great writers and commentators of the day. As much a book about London as the story of a murder books about London sell. Full of fascinating detail about mid-Victorian London in the vein of Peter Ackroyd social history at its best. Features a famous cast of characters that includes Dickens and Marx. Advertising in major review publications. It is 1849 London and the city is filthy, plagued, full of crime and filling up with refugees from the Irish Famine and the revolutionary wars on the continent. But the city is also on the brink of reform as transit stations are built, rioters pardoned and the Great Exhibition planned. The heaving city is the backdrop for the most sensational crime and trial of the decade: the Manning murder case. On August 9th Frederick and Maria Manning murder Patrick O'Connor, her lover, in the basement kitchen of their new terraced house in Bermondsey, South London. They bury the corpse under the flagstones, close up the house and flee in different directions: she to Scotland, he to the Channel Islands. Throughout the sticky summer the people of London obsess over the fate of the dominant mysterious woman and her weak husband as the full detail of their slaughter unfolded."London 1849" follows the murder, the trial and the execution, interweaving all the way the scene that was London: crime, noise, cholera, overpacked slums, prostitution, law and order, prisons. Michael Alpert uses the story to reveal life on the docks where the victim worked, the neighborhood where the Mannings lived, sensational press coverage, marital and sexualbehavior, medical progress against disease, the influx of immigrants, and public obsession with the killers. It is a grisly murder story set against the Victorian London, drawn in colorful and personal detail.


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A sensational story of murder, trial and public revenge influenced the great writers and commentators of the day. As much a book about London as the story of a murder books about London sell. Full of fascinating detail about mid-Victorian London in the vein of Peter Ackroyd social history at its best. Features a famous cast of characters that includes Dickens and Marx. Adve A sensational story of murder, trial and public revenge influenced the great writers and commentators of the day. As much a book about London as the story of a murder books about London sell. Full of fascinating detail about mid-Victorian London in the vein of Peter Ackroyd social history at its best. Features a famous cast of characters that includes Dickens and Marx. Advertising in major review publications. It is 1849 London and the city is filthy, plagued, full of crime and filling up with refugees from the Irish Famine and the revolutionary wars on the continent. But the city is also on the brink of reform as transit stations are built, rioters pardoned and the Great Exhibition planned. The heaving city is the backdrop for the most sensational crime and trial of the decade: the Manning murder case. On August 9th Frederick and Maria Manning murder Patrick O'Connor, her lover, in the basement kitchen of their new terraced house in Bermondsey, South London. They bury the corpse under the flagstones, close up the house and flee in different directions: she to Scotland, he to the Channel Islands. Throughout the sticky summer the people of London obsess over the fate of the dominant mysterious woman and her weak husband as the full detail of their slaughter unfolded."London 1849" follows the murder, the trial and the execution, interweaving all the way the scene that was London: crime, noise, cholera, overpacked slums, prostitution, law and order, prisons. Michael Alpert uses the story to reveal life on the docks where the victim worked, the neighborhood where the Mannings lived, sensational press coverage, marital and sexualbehavior, medical progress against disease, the influx of immigrants, and public obsession with the killers. It is a grisly murder story set against the Victorian London, drawn in colorful and personal detail.

30 review for London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    In August 1849, Frederick Manning and his Swiss wife, Maria, lured a middle-aged moneylender named Patrick O'Connor to their home in the Bermondsey section of London. O'Connor and Mrs. Manning had been lovers prior to her marriage, and probably for awhile afterward too. They shot and clubbed him to death, covered his body with quicklime, and then buried it under their kitchen floor. Maria hurried to O'Connor's rented room, where she stole money and railway share certificates. Then she and Freder In August 1849, Frederick Manning and his Swiss wife, Maria, lured a middle-aged moneylender named Patrick O'Connor to their home in the Bermondsey section of London. O'Connor and Mrs. Manning had been lovers prior to her marriage, and probably for awhile afterward too. They shot and clubbed him to death, covered his body with quicklime, and then buried it under their kitchen floor. Maria hurried to O'Connor's rented room, where she stole money and railway share certificates. Then she and Frederick fled in opposite directions: she went to Edinburgh while he sailed to the Channel Islands. When a concerned friend reported O'Connor's disappearance, the police went to the Manning home and discovered the makeshift grave. After a nationwide manhunt, the murderous couple was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. They were hung at Horsemonger Lane Gaol in November 1849, in front of a raucous crowd. Using the title alone as a point of reference, "London 1849: a Victorian Murder Story" appears to be about the Manning case. But it isn't. Michael Alpert has written a social history of London in the year 1849, when the O'Connor murder shocked the city. The first chapter is dedicated to the crime and the apprehension of Frederick and Maria Manning, and the concluding one uses their trial and execution to illustrate the workings of the British justice system. But the rest of the book is an admittedly fascinating look at the daily lives of mid-nineteenth century Londoners: what they ate, where they went for entertainment, how the class system worked, and the waning role of religion in their lives. Whenever possible, Alpert frames his topic to suggest what the Mannings might have done in a given circumstance. For example, in the chapter about recreation, he proposes that Maria would not have been interested in the Frith paintings at the National Gallery, as she had been a lady's maid in wealthy homes prior to her marriage and probably seen her fill of such masterpieces. When discussing the modes of public transportation available in 1849, Alpert presents a reasonably accurate re-enactment of Frederick Manning's flight from London to the Channel island of Jersey, where he was finally apprehended. I love social history and true crime, so have absolutely no complaints about Michael Alpert's marriage of the two genres. But he runs the risk of disappointing true crime fans who pick up his book expecting to read a concise account of the 'Bermondsey horror'. These people will be better off tracking down a copy of Albert Borowitz's "The Woman Who Murdered Black Satin: The Bermondsey Horror".

  2. 4 out of 5

    SheAintGotNoShoes

    I really enjoyed this book. Much about the East End's extreme poverty and totally inhumane conditions were already well known to me as I have been reading about Jack The Ripper as well as walking the streets myself many times on trips to England, since 1988. I did learn a few new things like defendants did not speak on their own behalf even when accused of murder, their lawyers did all the talking. Unlike many other reviewers it did not bother me in the least that the murder part of the book was p I really enjoyed this book. Much about the East End's extreme poverty and totally inhumane conditions were already well known to me as I have been reading about Jack The Ripper as well as walking the streets myself many times on trips to England, since 1988. I did learn a few new things like defendants did not speak on their own behalf even when accused of murder, their lawyers did all the talking. Unlike many other reviewers it did not bother me in the least that the murder part of the book was probably the smallest part and the lion's share dealt with legal, social, dietary, etc history. It wasn't an extremely interesting murder case anyhow, so I got much more out of learning about many of the social conditions of the time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Boo to whomever picked the title of this book! I obviously expected the story of a MURDER that TOOK PLACE in LONDON in 1849. I'm so silly. What I got was a couple of paragraphs at the beginning and a couple of paragraphs at the end about a murder, and the remainder of the book a sociological treatise of life in London during the 1840s-1860s. Not what I wanted. For all of that is was interesting I suppose, but not anything that couldn't have been learned in a thousand other more interesting books Boo to whomever picked the title of this book! I obviously expected the story of a MURDER that TOOK PLACE in LONDON in 1849. I'm so silly. What I got was a couple of paragraphs at the beginning and a couple of paragraphs at the end about a murder, and the remainder of the book a sociological treatise of life in London during the 1840s-1860s. Not what I wanted. For all of that is was interesting I suppose, but not anything that couldn't have been learned in a thousand other more interesting books that don't repeat themselves.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susanne

    This is actually a snapshot of London in the year 1849 using a true crime as its frame. If you are doing research about how Victorian people lived in London at mid-century, this is the book for you. It also makes me want to read more about the crime, so I'm going to look up the book the author recommends. This is actually a snapshot of London in the year 1849 using a true crime as its frame. If you are doing research about how Victorian people lived in London at mid-century, this is the book for you. It also makes me want to read more about the crime, so I'm going to look up the book the author recommends.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A Great into Victorian Life in London Though it’s sub-titled “A Victorian Murder Mystery”, there is little mystery to be found in this book; the details of the crime and its aftermath are clearly described in the book’s first chapter. That said, London, 1849 provides an accessible view of Victorian England’s filthy, plague and crime-ridden capital. Branching out from the murder of Patrick O’Connor by Frederick and Maria Manning, London 1849 goes on to detail such topics as health issues, prostitu A Great into Victorian Life in London Though it’s sub-titled “A Victorian Murder Mystery”, there is little mystery to be found in this book; the details of the crime and its aftermath are clearly described in the book’s first chapter. That said, London, 1849 provides an accessible view of Victorian England’s filthy, plague and crime-ridden capital. Branching out from the murder of Patrick O’Connor by Frederick and Maria Manning, London 1849 goes on to detail such topics as health issues, prostitution, poverty, marital relationships, sexuality, class issues and crime and punishment in Victorian London. Very detailed (if not a touch dry in a few spots), London, 1849 is recommended to anyone with an interest in Victorian life or the history of London.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christiane

    Not so much the story of a murder, which anyway was pretty simple (wife and husband kill her lover for his money and are caught and executed) but the story of London in 1849---which is a fascinating story. Especially the accounts of what people wore and ate, how they kept house, and what they did for entertainment. Conditions in poor areas were unbelievable by modern standards: there were no bathrooms or sanitary facilities; often there was no access to water but a single neighborhood pump that Not so much the story of a murder, which anyway was pretty simple (wife and husband kill her lover for his money and are caught and executed) but the story of London in 1849---which is a fascinating story. Especially the accounts of what people wore and ate, how they kept house, and what they did for entertainment. Conditions in poor areas were unbelievable by modern standards: there were no bathrooms or sanitary facilities; often there was no access to water but a single neighborhood pump that might only be turned on for 2 hours a day! Not surprisingly, epidemics like cholera were frequent. I've never been so thankful for hot water and flush toilets!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    An incredibly fascinating read and TOTALLY different than what I thought it was going to be. This book not only tells the story of a true murder case in 1849 London, but looks at London through a sociological study which would cause the murder to occur. What bumped it from a 4 star to a 5 star was the author's reference of literature from that period of time reflecting on society and giving examples. I was simply enthralled with it and couldn't get enough An incredibly fascinating read and TOTALLY different than what I thought it was going to be. This book not only tells the story of a true murder case in 1849 London, but looks at London through a sociological study which would cause the murder to occur. What bumped it from a 4 star to a 5 star was the author's reference of literature from that period of time reflecting on society and giving examples. I was simply enthralled with it and couldn't get enough

  8. 4 out of 5

    C. Rosenkreutz

    London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert is an interesting book. It describes the Victorian era style of living in an interesting and vivid way, making you feel like you would be standing there and seeing the scenery yourself. I love it for that, but unfortunately I have to take 1 star away, because the title of the book doesn't accurately present the content. You see, the title makes you think that the book is largely about the murder, but in reality there's about 1/3 of the murde London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert is an interesting book. It describes the Victorian era style of living in an interesting and vivid way, making you feel like you would be standing there and seeing the scenery yourself. I love it for that, but unfortunately I have to take 1 star away, because the title of the book doesn't accurately present the content. You see, the title makes you think that the book is largely about the murder, but in reality there's about 1/3 of the murder, the rest being about how people lived, ate, got to work etc. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to learn more about the 1800's style of living, but for those who are here for the murder case, perhaps it's best to look elsewhere.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    An unusual book, but it grew on me and I ended up ordering a copy for my brother. Alpert tells the reader about London in the year around 1849 by using a murder to focus the information. I found that this device worked quite well. I have been in London a few times (in the 1960s and 1990s) and find the city fascinating. Also, I have read a lot of Victorian literature and much of what he describes and discusses gave me new perspectives. For example, I knew something about the incredible poverty an An unusual book, but it grew on me and I ended up ordering a copy for my brother. Alpert tells the reader about London in the year around 1849 by using a murder to focus the information. I found that this device worked quite well. I have been in London a few times (in the 1960s and 1990s) and find the city fascinating. Also, I have read a lot of Victorian literature and much of what he describes and discusses gave me new perspectives. For example, I knew something about the incredible poverty and classism, but gained new insights. For example, he described how the poor did not have a place or means of cooking – no source of heat and no pots or cooking utensils. One of my favorite gems was his discussion of the different types of cabs – hansoms, phaetons, broughams – and of the social changes brought by the growth of railroads. He quotes Dickens and Thackeray extensively and I enjoyed those reminders of some of my favorite books. I also liked the pictures selected to illustrate the book But, this is not an easy book. It has some strange aspects that are hard to pin down. For example, the author tends to repeat an exact sentence in different parts of the book. And the movement from topic to topic can be jerky and sudden. However, if you have read a lot of Victorian lit, and if you have been to London, you will probably appreciate it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    In 1849, Maria Manning and her husband Frederick murdered Patrick O'Connor, Maria's lover. O'Connor arrived for dinner with the Mannings and, as he washed his face in the kitchen, was shot in the head Frederick Manning then beat the victim with a crowbar. The couple then buried him under the kitchen floor and went about their lives. The body was found when a girl who was hired to clean the kitchen, found the floor tiles loose and the grout still wet. The police were called and dug up the body. M In 1849, Maria Manning and her husband Frederick murdered Patrick O'Connor, Maria's lover. O'Connor arrived for dinner with the Mannings and, as he washed his face in the kitchen, was shot in the head Frederick Manning then beat the victim with a crowbar. The couple then buried him under the kitchen floor and went about their lives. The body was found when a girl who was hired to clean the kitchen, found the floor tiles loose and the grout still wet. The police were called and dug up the body. Maria had run to O'Connor's home the day of the murder and took away all of his cash and a supply of bonds. She then packed a large number of trunks and left town on the train. Frederick also tried to run but they were both arrested, tried and hung for their crime. Short story with a cut and dried ending but this book is a bit different. It looks at the city of London itself almost as another character in the story. The book is a very interesting look at Victorian London and how it lived. It looks at how the average person lived, how much they made, how their lives were changed from the "old days" before Queen Victoria. It is a very enlightening book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    The title and the description of the book on the book jacket are completely misleading. They imply that it is a victorian murder story, but the only real references to a murder story are contained in the first and last chapters. The remainder of the book is centered around the conditions and the time surrounding the murder. While some of the chapters had some interesting information about the times, it was overall a fairly dry and somewhat disappointing read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Minor

    Not exactly about a murder. The murder occurs in the first few pages. The remainder of the book describes what and how the murders may have lived--as a medium for describing the facts of life in the Victorian days. Amazing amount of details. Could easily be used as a text book for a history class.

  13. 4 out of 5

    MBP

    The subtitle "A Victorian Murder Story" is misleading: the entire murder story is told in the first chapter. The murder is used as a framework for telling about daily life in London in the mid-Victorian period. The history is a bit basic if you already have some knowledge of the period, but well written and researched, with extensive notes. The subtitle "A Victorian Murder Story" is misleading: the entire murder story is told in the first chapter. The murder is used as a framework for telling about daily life in London in the mid-Victorian period. The history is a bit basic if you already have some knowledge of the period, but well written and researched, with extensive notes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deanne

    This uses the murder in 1849 committed by Maria and Frederick Manning as the centre, but looks at aspects of life at the time. This includes education, communication and crime. Interesting book and a moment in history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The book was really a glimpse of London, and England, during this year. The "murder" was used as a vehicle to drive the discussion of life in London during this period. The murder itself was straightforward and would barely fill a chapter; a misleading title. The book was really a glimpse of London, and England, during this year. The "murder" was used as a vehicle to drive the discussion of life in London during this period. The murder itself was straightforward and would barely fill a chapter; a misleading title.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim Dixon

    If you want a pure murder story, this isn't it. However, if you want a look into early Victorian era life for all classes, this is your book. If you want a pure murder story, this isn't it. However, if you want a look into early Victorian era life for all classes, this is your book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Not much about the murder itself but lots of interesting facts about London in 1849.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meryl

    Living in London has meaning to me. I shall be visiting the streets so well described and visualising it back in 1849

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bee

    So, this book is very much about the title ("London 1849") and relatively little about the subtitle ("A Victorian Murder Story"). If you pick it up looking for a true crime history about a famous murder, you are probably going to be disappointed; there's a cursory overview of the facts of the crime in the first chapter, but the rest of the book is 95% London, 5% "murderers as framing device". (E.g., 'here's a chapter on food and kitchens in London, since Maria cooked a goose the day of the murde So, this book is very much about the title ("London 1849") and relatively little about the subtitle ("A Victorian Murder Story"). If you pick it up looking for a true crime history about a famous murder, you are probably going to be disappointed; there's a cursory overview of the facts of the crime in the first chapter, but the rest of the book is 95% London, 5% "murderers as framing device". (E.g., 'here's a chapter on food and kitchens in London, since Maria cooked a goose the day of the murder'.) Now, a social history of London in 1849 is not a bad thing, and this one is pretty well done! But it does feel, hmm, a little falsely advertised. So know what you're getting, and what you're not, before you start this one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Guera25

    Despite its provocative title, it's less about a lurid murder and more a social and cultural overview of a city and an era on the cusp of monumental social and technological changes. Once I got over my initial pique that I was not, in fact, getting a modern penny dreadful for my troubles, I found it an informative read that offered a lush portrait of a city and its people. And if it's penny-dreadful grue you seek, Alpert helpfully provides such a title in the opening sentence of his book. While I Despite its provocative title, it's less about a lurid murder and more a social and cultural overview of a city and an era on the cusp of monumental social and technological changes. Once I got over my initial pique that I was not, in fact, getting a modern penny dreadful for my troubles, I found it an informative read that offered a lush portrait of a city and its people. And if it's penny-dreadful grue you seek, Alpert helpfully provides such a title in the opening sentence of his book. While I'm glad I didn't buy it, it was well worth the library visit.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Hornyak

    Interesting look into how life would have been in London in the 1840s however the title is misleading- there is very little on the murder the book supposedly centers around or the capture of the guilty party.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Not a murder story at all really. The murder serves as a reference point which the author occasionally mentions in order to depict Victorian-era London life. Aside from Chapter 4, which contains the most foul depictions of unsanitary living conditions that I have ever read, its a very mediocre work. The sections on Communication, What they ate & what they wore, & Crime & Punishment are interesting enough, but w/only about 20 pages for each chapter, the author doesnt have much space to delve deep Not a murder story at all really. The murder serves as a reference point which the author occasionally mentions in order to depict Victorian-era London life. Aside from Chapter 4, which contains the most foul depictions of unsanitary living conditions that I have ever read, its a very mediocre work. The sections on Communication, What they ate & what they wore, & Crime & Punishment are interesting enough, but w/only about 20 pages for each chapter, the author doesnt have much space to delve deeply into any topic. The murderers are not interesting enough to hold much attention since the crime is rather simplistic, & the author's referencing of them feels a bit forced at times, as if he is trying too much to include them & make them relevant. In short, this work didnt really know what it wanted to be when it grew up, & it shows.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rob Nichols

    NOT a story about a Victorian Murder. The author centers research around a murder that happened at the time of interest to him. The crime, coverup, discovery, investigation, manhunt, capture/arrest, trial, and execution are all covered in detail in the first chapter. The rest of the book is the author telling details from around that time period, and he speculates whether or not the players may have experienced the way of life he describes. It is not bad research, and I did learn some interestin NOT a story about a Victorian Murder. The author centers research around a murder that happened at the time of interest to him. The crime, coverup, discovery, investigation, manhunt, capture/arrest, trial, and execution are all covered in detail in the first chapter. The rest of the book is the author telling details from around that time period, and he speculates whether or not the players may have experienced the way of life he describes. It is not bad research, and I did learn some interesting things. It started bad for me when I realized it was not "A Victorian Murder Story", and never recovered.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Don't I own this??? Don't I own this???

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    was expecting murder story, not a history of london. whoops.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marilene

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ju Zeng

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

  29. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

  30. 5 out of 5

    andrew

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