Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Proofing and indexing

Things have gotten a bit quiet in the last week or so least online.

One of the reasons for this is that I've now received the 'proofs' of the book, and I need to do the final read-through to make sure that everything is in order after the text has been copy-edited and typeset.

It's great to finally see how the book will  look (at least on the inside...the final cover isn't finished yet); in particular, it's gratifying to note that the various photographs that I've been able to include (nine in all) really add something to the text. There was a certain amount of effort (and expense) involved in getting those, so I'm glad to see that it was worth it.

The other task I've been tacking (which has taken up a lot more time) has been doing the index. Which is in some ways a rather tedious activity but in others has actually been quite rewarding so far.

Any advice on index-making from the professionals out there?

Anyway, there'll be more information here soon!

Meanwhile, there is rather a lot that's already here to spend some time looking through. So why don't you have a look.... 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Today in the Pace case: 22 February

Wednesday, 22 February, 1928: Rowland Ellis, Government Analyst for the City of Gloucester and the County of Gloucestershire—who had been given Harry’s organs and blood samples by Bristol pathology professor Isaac Walker Hall—sends his own report to the coroner.

Monday, 20 February 2012

One thing you'll probably never see on Top Gear

Something not case-related, but part of the atmosphere of late 1920s newspaper advertising.

Daily Herald, 8 April 1927, p. 5.

I think it's rather a shame that the concept of 'motoring chocolate' seems to have declined.

Perhaps it's time for a revival?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Context is always important

As I've noted at various points before, photography played an important part in the presentation of the Pace case in the press.

In researching the case, I've used a variety of methods of looking through press sources. Recent advances have meant that an increasing number of newspapers have been digitised and are available online (if you're part of an institution that has a subscription to them). This sort of thing is very valuable, and has become a key part of my research in the last half decade or so.

On the other hand, I've also relied mostly on the old fashioned method of press research: i.e., just looking through all the issues of a given newspaper within a particular timespan. Since the Pace case occurrred within a relatively compact period of time, this has not proven to be too difficult.

In any case, it's occurred to me how important it is to see how the case was reported in context.

For example, here's an example of a typical photo of Beatrice that appeared in the papers in 1928 (click for larger image):

Sunday Pictorial, 2 Sept. 1928, p. 1

As I've noted before, this was an oft-printed photo of Beatrice and her dog, Rover, taken at Rose Cottage (a high-quality version of which will appear in the book).

To this image, a photo of Inspector Cornish has been added.

The occasion of this article, which appeared in September 2008, was a series of events (which take up a chapter of my book) that might have led to a reopening of the case in the months after Beatrice's acquittal.

However, what is also interesting is to consider what context this image was presented in.

I could, for example, note that this appeared on the front page of the Sunday Pictorial

That provides some useful information.

Here, though, is the larger view (click for bigger image):

What to make of the juxtaposition of the possible reopening of the murder trial and the front-page treatment of the beauty-contest winners?

Well, that's a long story. Which I partly deal with in the book.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Today in the Pace case: 15 February

Wednesday, 15 February, 1928: Inspector Bent goes to Rose Cottage to confront Beatrice Pace about the rumours circulating locally that she was involved with her husband’s death. Beatrice willingly makes an official statement (written out by the police and signed by herself). This is the first of her three statements to police.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Today in the Pace case: 14 February

Tuesday, 14 February, 1928: The nine jurymen of the coroner's inquest jury receive notice that the resumption of the inquest will be delayed until 15 March due to a delay in receiving the report on the forensic analysis.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Girls these days

Something not especially relevant to the Pace case but which is certainly part of the broader context of press narratives about women in the 1920s, which is an important aspect of the book.

It's also just very interesting....

Devil-May-Care Girls 

“All the riskiest things are done by girls nowadays,” a traffic policeman told me the other day, as a girl motorist sailed through an apparently impassable block on two wheels without slackening speed. “And yet they have the fewest accidents. They have the nerve, that’s what it is.... All nerve, they are.”

It is no use inviting one of them to a quiet dinner to be followed by conversation. They will talk—also dangerously—only at lunch. There must be something with risks in it to be done afterwards. If there is nothing else, the motor-car must come out and be raced through a hundred miles or so in the darkness, with perhaps a river bathe, at the imminent risk of cramp, in the middle.

These girls find a private dance dull unless it is decked out with all kinds of extravagances. There is more “fun” to be found in a round of the night clubs with a chosen small party, particularly if any night club is forbidden ground.

The tragic part of it all—since the Empire needs risks to be taken—is that their dangerous living is of such an unproductive kind.

There is one consolation. These devil-may-care girls who must live dangerously, even if they have to manufacture the danger, will certainly be the mothers of no generation of mollycoddles. I think we may look forward with some confidence to great things to be accomplished by their sons. 
Daily Express, 13 August 1926, p. 8

Thursday, 9 February 2012

(Not so) secret admirer

Beatrice's appearance was very much a feature of her celebrity.

A particularly (though not singularly) flowery example:

‘It would need the pen of a Zola to do justice to the amazing story which lies behind the life of this still young and attractive woman. She is only 36* years of age, and although she has borne no fewer than ten children—five of them still living—and in her far from happy married life has suffered the most terrible experiences it is possible to imagine, she still retains the fresh, rosy cheeks and smiling eyes which were one of her greatest charms.’ 

Bernard O’Donnell, ‘Secrets of  Mrs. Pace’s Life and Marriage’, World’s Pictorial News 15 July 1928, p. 1.
(*Beatrice was in fact 38, but in the press stories of the time she was consistently described as being two years younger.)

'A strange new creature called woman'

One of the most important aspects of the context in which the Pace case was discussed was the debate around women's roles.

As Adrian Bingham, in his excellent book Gender, Modernity and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain, notes:
‘Flapper’ has often been described as ‘one of the defining words of the Twenties; equally pervasive was the visual image of modern femininity, slim, short-skirted with cropped hair. ... ‘In the old days,’ [an article from Newspaper World in August 1927] claimed, ‘a two-page account of a murder...was the great attraction; now it seems to be what some well-known man or woman thinks of the modern girl.’ ... ‘If a future chronicler were to study the files of our newspapers,’ speculated the novelist Rose Macaulay in 1925..., ‘he would get the impression that there had appeared at this time a strange new creature called woman who was receiving great attention from the public.’ (pp. 48-49)

Mrs. Pace, who was 38 at the time of her trial and idealised as a traditional wife and doting mother, hardly fit the image of the 'flapper': nonetheless, her presentation in the press was influenced by the discussions around the 'modern woman'.

That's a long story (to which I devote a whole chapter in the book).

However, as is well known, 1928 was the year in which women's voting rights were equalised with those of men.

There was a lot of discussion around the 'flapper vote', but I think my favourite contribution to it was the following advert, which appeared shortly before the 1929 general election, the first in which women could vote on equal terms as men:

Daily Herald, 20 May 1929, p. 3

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Key figures: G. Trevor Wellington

Over the months that the 'Fetter Hill Mystery' occupied headlines in the Gloucester area and throughout Britain, Beatrice Pace's fate was in the hands of a variety of people, the vast majority of them men: detectives, journalists, lawyers, magistrates, the coroner, politicians, etc.

Perhaps the most important figure in her life during this time -- at least with regard to the matter of her husband's death -- was G. Trevor Wellington, who acted as Beatrice's solicitor throughout the case.

We'll be hearing a bit more about Wellington as time goes on (and he plays an important role in the book), so I thought it would be a good moment to introduce him.

Although Wellington provided remarkably dedicated and effective legal assistance to his impoverished client, he was ultimately overshadowed by some of the legal heavyweights brought into the case at the trial stage, which is unfortunate.

The best introduction, perhaps oddly enough, comes via his obituary, which appeared upon his death in 1963. He had a long -- and very full -- life.

Interestingly enough, the Pace matter is not mentioned, although it was undoubtedly the most high-profile criminal case of his career.

Death of Mr. G. Trevor Wellington
Long Record of Public Service for Glo’ster

City Coroner for a great many years, Mayor of Gloucester and City Controller during the critical war period, a former City High Sheriff and a leading figure in local legal circles, Mr. Gilbert Trevor Wellington died yesterday at the age of 80.

Mr. Wellington, founder of the Gloucester firm of solicitors Wellington and Clifford, was active in business until late last year. He had been in hospital for several weeks.

Born in the Gloucester area, Mr. Wellington became Mayor during what must have been the most strenuous period in which any holder of that office has ever served, and he was only prevented by ill-health from serving as long as, or even longer, than any other mayor.

As it was, only the late Sir James Bruton, who served during the period of the first world war, from 1912 to 1919, held the mayoralty longer than Mr. Wellington, who was in office for six years.

He was made a member of the City Council as far back as 1907, and he represented the Tuffley ward until 1910. He was first elected Mayor in 1937, after serving as City High Sheriff the previous year, and was still in office when war broke out.

He assiduously took on the many extras duties which the war brought, the most onerous being that of City A R P Controller.

Giving unstintingly of his time to both the mayoralty and the chief controllership, Mr. Wellington drew heavily on his reserves of energy, and earned the gratitude of the city for the efficiency with which he carried out his many tasks.

His services to the city in this and over a much longer period were recognised in 1942, when he was awarded the C B E.

Throughout the most trying period of the war and including the time when the city suffered under enemy attack, Mr. Wellington was at the heart of Gloucester’s affairs. It was the unanimous wish that he should “see the job through,” but ill health forced him to resign in 1943.

His mayoralty was distinguished by his clarity of vision, his unquestioned powers of persuasion and his firm, but courteous hand in time of trouble.


Mr. Wellington was admitted a solicitor in 1904 and with the exception of the years of the first world war, had practised in the city ever since.

A senior partner in his firm, he became extremely well known and respected in legal circles throughout Gloucestershire.

In his legal activities he rendered great service not only to his clients but also to the public, for over a considerable period he conducted criminal and civil proceedings on behalf of the Chief Constable and local authorities.

He was for many years clerk of the magistrates at Stroud and Newent, offices which are now held by his son and partner in the firm, Lt.-Col. Brian Wellington.

Mr. Wellington first became the City Coroner in 1921, but relinquished the post when elected Mayor. He took up the Coroner’s duties again in 1944.


He was for some considerable time honorary solicitor to the former Gloucestershire Royal Infirmary. He was vice-chairman of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society and in 1938 was elected president of the Three Counties Show. He was a former president of the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Law Society and a vice-president of the Gloucestershire British Legion.

He saw considerable active service during the first world war and was in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry.

Afterwards he was attached to the 6th (subsequently the 2nd) Reserve Regiment of the Cavalry, the Curragh, Co. Kildare, the 1/3 County of London Yeomanry in Egypt and Palestine and the 103rd (City and 3rd County of London Yeomanry) Battalion Machine Gun Corps in France and Belgium.

Mr. Wellington had lived for many years at the Bear Hotel, Rodborough Common, Stroud. He was predeceased by his wife and is survived by his son and two grandchildren, one of whom went to Canada.

The other was a practising solicitor in this country for some years before her marriage.

At Mr. Wellington’s request the funeral is to be private.

(The Gloucester Citizen, Monday, 4 February 1963, p. 1)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Period feel: advertising

In researching The Most Remarkable Woman in England, I spent a lot of time reading newspapers from the late 1920s.

There are many things that I enjoyed about that experience, but one of them relates to something that had nothing to do with the main topic of my book: advertising. Not all newspaper adverts were interesting, clever, amusing or silly. But many of them were. And, in looking through my records on the case, I have run across several that are, I think, worth sharing.

So, based on the argument that they might provide a little late 20s atmosphere (and on the fact that I just like them), I thought I'd start a new occasional series here on adverts.

The first one is, at least thematically, somehow related to the Pace case: it features the police.

(Daily Herald, 7 April 1927, p. 8)
Of course, I do not advocate the purchase or use of any of the products advertised....

Britain's first serial murderer?

A bit belatedly, I note that there was an interesting article by David Wilson at the Daily Mail on Mary Ann Cotton, who was executed in 1873 for killing several people with arsenic.

There are many fascinating details about the case, as there are in many of the sensational nineteenth-century murder trials. (For those interested in mainly Victorian poisoning cases, I would recommend Katherine Watson's Poisoned Lives.)

However, I was a bit surprised by this:

Here is not just the first British serial killer – someone who has killed more than three people in a period greater than 30 days – but the first to exploit and abuse the anonymity of a new industrial age.

Going by this definition, I can think of at least one other case which preceded Cotton's spree and would meet the definition of 'serial murder' provided here: the well-known Burke and Hare murders.

Burke and Hare killed (at least) sixteen people over the period of a year (famously, for the purpose of selling their bodies to Edinburgh's corspse-hungry medical schools) and were hanged in 1829.

Furthermore, having recently reviewed a very worthwhile book on that case -- Lisa Rosner's The Anatomy Murders -- it was also apparent that the killers made great use of urban 'anonymity' to get away with their murders as long as they did.

In any case, I'm not sure that we'll ever know who the 'first' serial murderer in Britain (or anywhere else) was; in the end, we can only talk about the people who were caught

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Relevant things elsewhere

An interesting series of posts related to inter-war crime fiction (and therefore relevant to the broader context of the Pace case) was posted in the last few days.

Deborah Blum considers Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles and strychnine poisoning.

Ann Finkbeiner writes about post-traumatic stress, the First World War and Dorothy Sayers’s Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. 

Jennifer Ouellette examines another of Sayers's books, Gaudy Night from the perspective of the physics of music.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Relief and joy

These are actually a couple of my favourite photos from the case; unfortunately, I was only able to find them on microfilm, hence the relatively poor quality.

Still, I think the combination of emotions is very striking, and shines through.

They were taken in the wake of Beatrice Pace's acquittal, and the joy and the relief is quite plain. (Click for larger version.)

Sunday Pictorial, 8 July 1928, p. 26.

Left, we see Beatrice Pace herself; right, Doris and Leslie Pace, two of her five children.