Murder in Victorian Scotland: The Trial of Madeleine Smith

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The Trial of Madeleine Smith

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This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Mar 20, Dawn rated it really liked it Shelves: true-crime. In the spring of , Glaswegians were stunned by the news that twenty-two-year-old socialite Madeleine Smith had been charged with murdering her secret lover.

Society in strict class stratified Victorian Britain expected women like Madeleine to marry young and marry well, their names ap In the spring of , Glaswegians were stunned by the news that twenty-two-year-old socialite Madeleine Smith had been charged with murdering her secret lover. Society in strict class stratified Victorian Britain expected women like Madeleine to marry young and marry well, their names appearing in the newspaper only when they were married or buried. The strong-willed and flirtatious Madeleine defied these expectations. Emile l'Angelier, her alleged victim, had a decidedly different upbringing.

He found employment as a clerk in a local warehouse. It was respectable work, but the pay was meager, and prospects for advancement were slim.


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  6. Working class Emile seemed an unlikely lover for the well-heeled Madeleine, but in , when Emile spied Madeleine walking near his office, he was instantly smitten. He managed to persuade a mutual acquaintance to hold a party, inviting both he and Madeleine to attend. Not long afterward, the pair began to correspond and arrange clandestine meetings.

    Emile pressured Madeleine to reveal their relationship to her parents. He offered to go to her father and ask for her hand.

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    Madeleine balked at this. She knew her father would never consent to see his eldest child married to a penniless clerk. When Madeleine's parents eventually discovered their relationship, as predicted, they were livid. They demanded that she end the relationship, refusing to even meet Emile, let alone accept him as a prospective son-in-law.

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    The lovers were seemingly undeterred. They continued to refer to themselves as engaged, making plans to elope. In , they went further, becoming lovers. A fact made clear in Madeleine's letters to Emile. After the beginning of their sexual relationship, they began referring to one another as "husband" and "wife".

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    Yet their plans to elope never seemed to get off the ground. First, Madeleine vowed to wed him in September, but she argued that she was terrified of having the banns read in Glasgow because of her unusual first name. Then she promised that they would elope in March, but the excuses continued.

    She couldn't get away from the house.

    How was the maid to forward her luggage? By January , Emile had begun to sense that an actual marriage would never take place. Madeleine had been frequently seen in the company of a successful merchant, William Minnoch, and for months, rumors of their engagement had been circulating. Initially, Madeleine had insisted that there was no truth to the claims, but in February, she conceded that the rumors were true.

    She wrote Emile on February 2, proclaiming that she had once loved him, but that their relationship was hopeless, her parents would never agree to an engagement. Besides, her love for Emile had cooled. She was tired of his constant faultfinding.

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    Murder in Victorian Scotland: The Trial of Madeleine Smith by Douglas MacGowan

    She was now engaged to William Minnoch. She then requested the return of her love letters. Devastated and angry, Emile refused to return the letters. A distraught Madeleine met with Emile, and wrote additional letters, begging for the return of the incriminating correspondence.

    Murder and Morality in Victorian Britain: The Story of Madeleine Smith

    Instead, Emile told friends and may have told Madeleine that he intended to take the letters to her father. He knew that the letters, containing her scandalous admission of premarital sex, would destroy Madeleine, and told a colleague that he would never allow her to marry another man while he still lived. By analyzing the correspondence between Madeleine and Emile, the criminal trial testimony, and the pathology reports on Emile's body, Murder in Victorian Scotland gives the most complete picture to date of the events surrounding this infamous crime.

    This book shows Madeleine's rise from an anonymous defendant into one of the leading social celebrities of the day. An in-depth look at the writings of Madeleine's biographers details the variety of ways in which Madeleine and Emile were depicted, various theories regarding the facts of the alleged crime, and the folklore mystique of the notorious case.

    Murder in Victorian Scotland provides valuable insight into the limited world of Victorian women and the great divide between social classes that doomed the daring relationship even before it had begun. This is his first book. Douglas MacGowan. The Correspondence.

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