A ménage à trois and a grisly murder shocked and fascinated the Victorian public in 1849; the public hanging attracted huge crowds who appalled Charles Dickens with their bloodthirstiness. As far as readers of broadsheets and newspapers understood, the criminal trajectory, two deceptive suitors courted Swiss lady’s maid Marie de Roux, with railway guard Frederick Manning the first to propose. They married in 1847, after which he emptied her coffers in a failed pub and did not receive an expected legacy. Mrs. Manning turned to her long-term friend, successful extortionist Patrick O’Connor, for financial help, while Manning planned an unsuccessful armed robbery. The murder plot took shape, the deed was done, the body discovered, and the couple cleverly traced using the latest technology. A dizzyingly modern but inadequate investigation was followed by reports in the press that promoted illusory truths, and a trial in which her death sentence was a foregone conclusion. Since then, through a muddle of contradictory reports, the rhetoric of the period about her depravity has become fact. Taking her outburst in court as its starting point, this version of events may be just as fragile, but at least attempts to answer the questions she asked and points toward an injustice.
|Title of host publication||The Routledge Handbook of Victorian Scandals in Literature and Culture|
|Editors||Brenda Ayres, Sarah E. Maier|
|Place of Publication||New York, NY|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - 2023|
|Name||Routledge Literature Handbooks|