By Liana Jacob
SINISTER Victorian images that depict Britain’s most notorious murders from the era, including the Llangibby Massacre and the Bravo Mystery have emerged in a new book.
Most of the sensational photographs were originally published in weekly illustrated newspaper, the Illustrated Police News (IPN), considered one of the earliest British tabloids.
Vignettes unravel the sequence of events during the Llangibby Massacre on August 3, 1878, showing callous murderer, Yusaf Garcia, wielding a knife at a terrified young woman. The collage also illustrates the gruesome sight of children’s bodies lying in the morgue, while another section of the image shows the emotional funeral of the victims.
The Chelsea Double Murder of 1870 is also depicted in two pictures; one showing the discovery of the body of Elias Huelin in a large hole that was dug in a garden, whilst another image shows a second murder victim, Ann Boss, curled up in a box.
The compilation of photos is part of a book, Victorian Murders, by crime writer and Cardiff University professor, Jan Bondeson (55), from Edinburgh, Scotland.
“I came across the collection of illustrations in Cardiff in 2010 and began scanning them in that year. The study of historical crime can be a rewarding pastime,” Jan said.
“This is a privately held collection of old crime illustrations, which I made use of to illustrate the book and start research into the individual cases.
“The best part was finding, in some cases, novel evidence regarding mysterious unsolved murders in Victorian times.”
Many of the images from ‘Victorian Murders’ are compiled of newspaper cuttings from IPN. The newspaper was primarily an illustrative form of journalism and was often accused of being sensationalist, particularly in the wake of the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, the paper published many articles dealing with the ‘alien immigration question’ that was said to have promoted xenophobic attitudes amongst mainly its working-class readership.
“The Illustrated Police News (IPN) was inaugurated on 20 February 1864; it would remain in publication, as a weekly Saturday news for no less than seventy-four years,” Jan said.
“Initially, it had four pages, the first of which was devoted to illustrations of recent crimes. It was not, as has often been proclaimed, a forerunner in its field of journalism; the concept of such ‘illustrated police’ weekly papers dates back as far as the 1830s.”
Victorian Murders was published by Amberley Publishing on December 15, 2017, and is available here: https://www.amberley-books.com/victorian-murders.html