A volume of contemporary newspaper clippings, pamphlets and broadsheet publications relating to the Edgware Road Murder.

London: various publishers, 1837 Stock Code: 119351
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"Horrible Murder and Mutilation"

A fascinating assemblage of printed material relating to the cause celebre of 1837, the brutal murder and dismemberment, on Christmas Eve 1836, of Hannah Brown by James Greenacre (1785-1837), forever after known as the Edgware Road Murderer. This collection was compiled by someone eagerly following the case and attests to the grip that it exerted on the public mind: at the time of the trial ephemera of all sorts poured onto the market and after his execution "plays based on the Edgware Road murder were given in the penny theatres and an effigy of Greenacre was made for Madame Tussaud's waxwork exhibition" (ODNB). Included here are the scarce Paddington Murder Sheet - a lurid "special" issued by The Weekly Chronicle - and other decidedly uncommon pieces, including Fairburn's comprehensive coverage of the trial and an issue of The New Doctor, with the front page given over to the phrenological aspect of the Greenacre case.

"About September 1836, when living at 6 Carpenter's Buildings, Camberwell, Greenacre advertised in The Times for a partner to provide 300 for the commercial exploitation of his washing machine which he had designed and built while living in the United States; it was answered by a washerwoman named Hannah Brown. She was the widow of a shoemaker, Thomas Brown, who had met his death at sea when he left her to go to America. She stated that she had just the sum of money Greenacre was looking for, and a marriage between them was arranged for Christmas day 1836 in St Giles, Camberwell. On 24 December, when she joined him at his house, he murdered her. He cut up the body and disposed of the pieces in various localities round London, where they began to be found later in December, the head, for example, in the Regent's Canal at Stepney the torso was discovered at the exotically named Pineapple Gate, Edgware Road, giving the case its soubriquet. Inspector Feltham was put in charge of the case and on 24 March 1837 arrested Greenacre, who was preparing to sail for America, at St Alban's Place, Kennington Road. With him was also arrested his mistress, Sarah Gale: Hannah Brown's earrings were found in Gale's possession. Greenacre, who was by now aged fifty-one or fifty-two, of middle height and stout build, was visited in prison by members of parliament and noblemen. The trial at the central criminal court, at which Greenacre appeared clad in a blue coat, a fancy waistcoat, and a black stock, lasted two days, 10 and 11 April 1837, and both defendants were convicted and sentenced to death. Greenacre insisted that Gale had not known about the murder, to which he ultimately admitted, and her sentence was commuted to transportation for life to Australia, where she died in 1888. Greenacre tried to hang himself in his cell, and spent his time writing many letters and explanatory documents. He was hanged on 2 May 1837 in front of Newgate, the execution being witnessed by at least 20,000 persons who gathered over two days; a fairground atmosphere prevailed, with prize-fighters sparring under the gallows to keep the crowd amused. Greenacre showed great self-possession and strength of nerve on the scaffold, where he asked, 'Don't leave me too long in the concourse and make the rope tight'. Back in Newgate, Greenacre's head was shaved for examination by phrenologists before he was buried in the prison. He was survived by four of his children. Plays based on the Edgware Road murder were given in the penny theatres and an effigy of Greenacre was made for Madame Tussaud's waxwork exhibition. Greenacre's death mask, made on 4 May 1837 by J. Miller of Theobald's Road, later became an exhibit in New Scotland Yard's Black Museum, along with handwritten notes which he passed to his counsel during the trial" (ibid.).


"Frontispiece" of a Gothic archway printed on purple paper (probably cut from the front wrapper of a periodical).

Autograph letter signed: "Sunday evening Dear Crow, I send you some Greenacreiana which I saved while cutting out some dramatic scraps - I also send a Satirist a weekly London scandal sheet & an Age another weekly not having time to clip you out the other tidbits concerning the great Criminal. Pray keep the dramatic bits of both for me. Yours ever Moor(?) and addressed at the foot to: Jim Crow Esq". An interesting contemporary letter addressed joshingly to "Jim Crow Esq" - Thomas Dartmouth Rice, the American blackface performer and originator of the persona of "Jim Crow", had performed to enthusiastic audiences in London in 1836.

Approximately 45 pages of contemporary newspaper clippings relevant to the case, dated in a contemporary hand.

The Edgware-Road Tragedy. Fairburn's Edition of the Trials of Greenacre & Gale, for the Horrible Murder and Mutilation of Hannah Brown; including the evidence at full length, the judge's charge to the jury, and sentence of the prisoners; with the Life of Greenacre, written by himself. London: J. Fairburn, 1837. 64 pp., Library Hub locates just two copies in British and Irish institutional libraries (Wales, Royal College of Physicians); WorldCat cites seven more (Stanford, Library of Congress, Trial Court Law Library, Wayne State, University of Minnesota, Duke, University of Memphis).

Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers, issues 49-53 and 55 (presumably all those concerning this case) London: Edward Lloyd, 1837. Wood engraving to each part.

The New Doctor, a Medical, Philosophical, and Literary Magazine. No. 48. London: B.D. Cousins, 1837. 8 pp. (paginated 377-384); wood engravings accompanying "phrenological description of the head of James Greenacre, the Murderer".

Martin's Annals of Crime; or, New Newgate Calendar, and General Record of Tragic Events, including Ancient and Modern Modes of Torture, etc., issues 61-67 and 69. London: William Mark Clark, 18370. Wood engraving to each part.

The Paddington Murder Sheet. With twelve engravings. Being the Trial of James Greenacre, for the Horrible Murder and Mutilation of Hannah Brown; and of Sarah Gale, his Accomplice, for being accessory to the said Murder - A full, correct, and copious Report taken from The Weekly Chronicle Newspaper. Price 2d. London: The Weekly Chronicle, 1837. Folio, 4 pp. divided into two sections and tipped-in. Wood engravings of Greenacre, the severed head of Brown, and Gale and her young son; also Greenacre's house and individual rooms (including the "room where the horrible mutilation was committed"), scenes where the body parts were discovered, a view of the interior of the Central Criminal Court during the trial, and Greenacre "taking notes at his examination before the magistrate's at Marylebone police-office".

A unique collection covering one of the most shocking murder cases of the 19th century and of particular interest for the light that it sheds on the "exploitation of violent crime" in the contemporary print media (L. Perry Curtis, Jr., Jack the Ripper and the London Press, Yale 2001, pp. 67-68).

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Quarto (305 x 180 mm), approximately 100 leaves of clippings, articles and pamphlets mounted on wove paper. Recent brown cloth, dark brown skiver label lettered in gilt.


Some wood-engraved illustrations.


A few closed-tears to newspaper clippings otherwise in very good condition.


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