Monday, 12 August 2013

Today in the Pace case: 12 August 1928

Eighty-five years ago on this date, the last instalment of Beatrice Pace's six-part 'life story' appeared in the Sunday Express, the newspaper to which the rights to her autobiography had been sold (on the day after her acquittal for her husband's arsenic murder) for somewhat more than £3,000, which was then a substantial sum.

In the final episode, 'The Beginning of a New Life', Beatrice offered both some final comments on her marriage and a few insights into what--as the title suggested--her life had become.

Sunday Express, 12 Aug 1928, p. 12.

I realise better now that I have to talk about my life on paper, what my feelings towards my husband really were. They were those of a mother with a bad, unruly child much stronger than herself.
I see now that after a very few months I stopped feeling like a wife and began to feel like a mother.

Harry made me feel like that. His carelessness, his dumbness—even his meanness.

Like the meanness of a child who hoards cheep sweets and will neither give them away nor enjoy them himself—all forced me to feel that unless I mothered him he would be quite helpless.

I pitied Harry, I can see that now, and it occurs to me that perhaps he felt it at the bottom of his mind, and resented it.

It may be that I was mistaken to pity him, and that his man’s pride was hurt. It may be that he thought to himself, “Pity me, does she? I’ll show her who’s the best man here!” and perhaps, when his fury was on him, those thought made him more cruel.


You can imagine that with such a life my mind did not move much. We had no pleasures and no outings. As I have already said, I was never allowed to go to the cinema or the theatre, and, in any case, I was too shabby to have gone to either.

I had little time to myself, and all I could think about was my home and my children. They were part of my work, and a big part, but they were also my holiday. Worried and troubled as I was with them, seeing that they were so delicate owing to the way Harry treated me, and the lack of proper food, I don't know what I should have done without them. Theirs were the only smiles I saw at home.

I went to the seaside the other day. It was the first time in my life that I had ever seen the sea. The air was wonderful, and I felt better as soon as I began to breathe it in.


Since then the world has become a new place for me, and I have been living a life that I have sometimes found it difficult to believe real.

But now I know it is real, and I want once more to thank all those who have shown me sympathy, who have helped me with money or gifts or advice when I was in danger of losing my life.

Though I can never repay you all, I shall never forget any of you.

(Sunday Express, 12 August 1928, p. 12)
(For the other instalments in the series, click here.)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Today in the Pace case: 5 August 1928

Eighty-five years ago today, the fifth instalment of Beatrice Pace's 'life-story' appeared in the Sunday Express, which had bought the rights to her autobiography on the day after her acquittal for the arsenic murder of her husband, Harry Pace.

Like the previous week's instalment, this one combined elements of autobiography with something of an 'advice column'.

It was titled, 'A Talk To Those About To Marry'.

It focused a great deal on the violence in the Pace household and Beatrice's efforts to deal with it.

The Sunday Express, 5 August 1928, p. 15

Sometimes, when I would see him coming over the fields with that walk that I knew meant a thrashing for me, I would go to meet him, and tell him of something special that I had got for his supper.

It used to happen, now and again, that by doing that I escaped a beating, and it used to happen that sometimes I did not. […]

Pancakes were the great things to put him in a good temper, and whatever were my housekeeping difficulties, I nearly always contrived to have in the house materials for making them. If I felt trouble in the air (like our dog, Rover, I often sensed Harry’s moods beforehand), I would hurry to get some pancakes ready, and then run to meet Harry so soon as I saw him coming across the fields.’ […]

I have read about “strong, silent men” in stories, and how women are supposed to love them, but let me tell you that whenever I hear about that kind of man I think of Harry, and I wonder why people write such nonsense. Poor Harry was strong and silent enough, and I do not advise any women to marry such a type. […]

I have said it before, and I say it again—I loved Harry, and I would have stood by him whatever he did, and for another eighteen years, if he had lived. But I say frankly that if I had my life over again I would not marry a man of his type for all the money in the world. It was a deadening existence, one that I could not have believed possible, if I had not experienced it. […]

But this I will say—I don’t advise any girl to marry, whether she is rich or poor, until she knows—and is sure she knows—something about the bad qualities of the man who wants to be her husband.