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Head of Zeus
Rex v Edith Thompson
Rex v Edith Thompson: A Tale of Two Murders Laura Thompson

'Another dark parable of society's vilification of women. Intelligent ... A tantalizing investigation' Kate Colquhoun.

On the night of 3 October 1922, in the quiet suburb of Ilford, Edith Thompson and her husband Percy were walking home after an evening spent at a London theatre, when a man sprang out of the darkness and stabbed Percy to death. The assailant was Frederick Bywaters, a twenty-year-old merchant seaman who had been Edith's lover. When the police learned of his relationship with Edith, she was arrested as his accomplice, despite protesting her innocence. The remarkably intense love letters Edith wrote to Freddy – some of them couched in ambiguous language – were read out at their trial for murder at the Old Bailey. They would seal her fate: Edith and Freddy were hanged for the murder of Percy Thompson in January 1923. Freddy was demonstrably guilty; but was Edith truly so?

In shattering detail and with masterful emotional insight, Laura Thompson charts the course of a liaison with thrice-fatal consequences, and investigates what the trial and execution of Edith Thompson tell us about perceptions of women in early twentieth-century Britain.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * True Crime
08 Mar 2018 * 448pp * £6.99 * 9781784976095
REVIEWS
'In this compelling book you enter [Edith's] world, root for her, and come out filled with rage and dismay at a society that showed her no mercy'
Evening Standard
'Laura Thompson has written a stunning, passionate and unforgettable book which will hopefully bring some balance to the story of Edith Thompson and Freddy Bywaters'
Shiny New Books
'Extraordinarily gripping: by turns titillating, moving, shocking, and in its final pages, producing feelings of sickened revulsion in this reader'
TLS
'The Thompson-Bywaters case was one of the most lurid murder trials of the Twenties. Edith Thompson and her young love Freddy Bywaters were hanged for the murder of Edith's husband, but Laura Thompson argues passionately that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice'
Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year
'The author brilliantly evokes a world significantly different from our own in many ways – while remaining very much the same in others – and the organisation of her material is really impressive'
Crime Review
'The precursor to the Villa Madeira murder. The prewar justice system exacts terrible retribution on a woman who had the temerity to take a young lover'
The Times
Author
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson is the award-winning author of Life in a Cold Climate: A Biography of Nancy Mitford, A Different Class of Murder: the Story of Lord Lucan, and Rex v. Edith Thompson: A Tale of Two Murders.
ALSO BY Laura Thompson
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