Criminal Women, 1850–1920

Criminal Women, 1850–1920

Researching the Lives of Britain's Female Offenders

Lucy Williams, Barry Godfrey


  • Description
  • Author
  • Info
  • Reviews


“The fascinating lives of the women who hit hard times . . . investigat[es] the stories behind the faces in the incredible images.” —Al Bawaba
Women are among the hardest individuals to trace through the historical record and this is especially true of female offenders who had a vested interest in not wanting to be found. That is why this thought-provoking and accessible handbook by Lucy Williams and Barry Godfrey is of such value. It looks beyond the crimes and the newspaper reports of women criminals in the Victorian era in order to reveal the reality of their personal and penal journeys, and it provides a guide for researchers who are keen to explore this intriguing and neglected subject.
The book is split into three sections. There is an introduction outlining the historical context for the study of female crime and punishment, then a series of real-life case studies which show in a vivid way the complexity of female offenders’ lives and follows them through the penal system. The third section is a detailed guide to archival and online sources that readers can consult in order to explore the life-histories of criminal women.
The result is a rare combination of academic guide and how-to-do-it manual. It introduces readers to the latest research in the field and it gives them all the information they need to carry out their own research.
“The core of the book consists of some 30 case studies of women who went through the system, their offences (from drunkenness and petty theft to murder) and their punishments (from fines or prison to transportation or execution).” —Police History Society