Poison Panic: Arsenic Deaths in 1840s Essex

Helen Barrell examines the lives of three apparently ordinary women: Sarah Chesham, Hannah Southgate, and Mary May. 1840s Essex became notorious as a place where women stalked the lanes looking for their next victim to poison with arsenic, though much of the reported horror remains unfounded. - Helen Barrell - Helen is a librarian. She [...]

7 Imaginative But Most Peculiar Novels About Death

Writer, blogger and self proclaimed word-nerd Harriet Allner, presents the first in a series of special posts for Death & the Maiden that explore death in literature. This week's novels take various questions about human life and death, exploring them in interesting, challenging ways. Examining how we construct horrors and hopes around dying, how we use story to [...]

Rest In Pieces

To celebrate the paperback release of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses, author Bess Lovejoy is giving away a signed copy of her book. Rest in Pieces catalogs stories from the age of antiquity to today, tracing the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death and connecting the lives of the famous deceased [...]

Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs

Historian, Verity Holloway's first novella Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs is about magic, makeup, crypts, and clownfish. But mostly, it's about our obsession with keeping the dead around. Here Verity shares how this book began as a few notes and takes us back to her first encounter with the incorrupt body of Saint Spyridon in Corfu. [...]

Midwives, Layers-Out, and Lady Pole

Patricia Lundy explores the relationship between women and death by reflecting on two books. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin Doughty’s memoir on her experience (past and current) in the death industry and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, with specific focus on Lady Pole. In this post Patricia entertains the [...]

The Winter of Our Lives

Death & the Maidens’ own Lucy Talbot talks with Dr Monica Williams-Murphy about her role as Emergency Medicine Physician, the experiences that led her to write the wonderful It's OK to Die and travel across America educating and advocating for a better approach to death and dying. Explaining why we all need to prepare for the [...]

Tears Become Ideas

In some places, the ability to sing or recite ritual laments became part of a feminine portfolio of skills, along with cooking, spinning, mending and cleaning. Here, author Sarah Murray shares an adaptation from her wonderful book Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre, How We Dignify the Dead to give us insight [...]

Women in the Mourning

Kate Mayfield is the author of the memoir, The Undertaker's Daughter. Here she takes us back to a time when women were not prominent figures in the funeral industry. Sharing the stories of women who played important roles 'behind the scenes' at her father's funeral home, Kate's childhood home. - Kate Mayfield - Kate Mayfield [...]