Kate Colquhoun sets herself a number of significant challenges in her compelling new book, Did She Kill Him? Like Kate Summerscale before her, Colquhoun mines the rich seam of legal archives to give her readers the fascinating tale of a Victorian courtroom drama: that of Florence Maybrick, accused, in 1889, of murdering her husband.
Colquhoun achieves expertly all the things one could hope to expect in such a historical account. She paints a picture not only of a woman on trial, but of the complicated world of late 19th-century England. We get a sense of a woman’s changing place in the world, we see Liverpool society on display, we learn about the press, about science and justice and politics. But we don’t lose sight of the central story: did Florence Maybrick kill her odious husband? This is a fascinating, meticulously researched book, full of period detail.