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A Sentimental Murder Love And Madness In The Eighteenth Century (Paperback)

Author:  John Brewer
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FORMAT: Paperback
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Learn more about A Sentimental Murder:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0374529779
ISBN-13: 9780374529772
Sku: 31041834
Publish Date: 4/10/2007
Dimensions:  (in Inches) 8.5H x 7.5L x 0.5T
Pages:  340
Age Range:  NA
 
One April evening in 1779, Martha Ray, the pretty mistress of a famous aristocrat, was shot dead at point-blank range by a young clergyman who then attempted to take his own life. Instead he was arrested, tried and hanged. In this fascinating new book, John Brewer, a leading historian of eighteenth-century England, asks what this peculiar little story was all about. Then as now, crimes of passion were not uncommon, and the story had the hallmarks of a great scandal--yet fiction and fact mingled confusingly in all the accounts, and the case was hardly deemed appropriate material for real history.
Was the crime about James Hackman's unrequited love for the virtuous mother of the Earl of Sandwich's illicit children? Or was Ray, too, deranged by passion, as a popular novel suggested? In Victorian times the romance became a morality tale about decadent Georgian aristocrats and the depravity of wanton women who consorted with them; by the 1920s Ray was considered a chaste mistress destroyed by male dominance and privilege. Brewer, in tracing Ray's fate through these protean changes in journalism, memoir, and melodrama, offers an unforgettable account of the relationships among the three protagonists and their different places in English society--and assesses the shifting balance between storytelling and fact, past and present that inheres in all history.
From the Publisher:
Probing a 1779 incident involving the murder of a prominent woman by a clergyman, the author unfolds fact from fiction, comparing confusing, conflicting accounts of the crime to reveal how dubious facts end up becoming part of "history." Reprint.
One April evening in 1779, Martha Ray, the pretty mistress of a famous aristocrat, was shot dead at point-blank range by a young clergyman who then attempted to take his own life. Instead he was arrested, tried and hanged. In this fascinating new book, John Brewer, a leading historian of eighteenth-century England, asks what this peculiar little story was all about. Then as now, crimes of passion were not uncommon, and the story had the hallmarks of a great scandal--yet fiction and fact mingled confusingly in all the accounts, and the case was hardly deemed appropriate material for real history.

Was the crime about James Hackman's unrequited love for the virtuous mother of the Earl of Sandwich's illicit children? Or was Ray, too, deranged by passion, as a popular novel suggested? In Victorian times the romance became a morality tale about decadent Georgian aristocrats and the depravity of wanton women who consorted with them; by the 1920s Ray was considered a chaste mistress destroyed by male dominance and privilege. Brewer, in tracing Ray's fate through these protean changes in journalism, memoir, and melodrama, offers an unforgettable account of the relationships among the three protagonists and their different places in English society--and assesses the shifting balance between storytelling and fact, past and present that inheres in all history.
Annotation:
In this account of a crime committed in 1779, John Brewer dives into a world not unlike our own, in which the murder of a woman took over the press and inflamed public opinion for weeks on end. The woman was Martha Ray, mistress of the Earl of Sandwich, who was also the First Lord of the Admiralty; she was the victim of an apparent crime of passion, shot dead by a young man said to be jealous of her liaison. But the actual event is merely a starting point for Brewer's investigation, which explores the English class structure, the daily life of the time, and the way that, as years went by, the popular perception of the murder changed.

Praise

New York Review of Books
"Why revive the story today? It makes a good tale, of course, and Brewer tells it well....But if Brewster's book is a symptom of a larger trend, it appears that a new genre has given academic history new life and has brought it within range of the general reading public." - Robert Darnton 06/24/2004

Literary Review
"SENTIMENTAL MURDER is an exceptional book, stimulating, original, beautifully written and full of wit." - Miranda Seymour March 2004

Product Attributes

Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0340
Product attributePublisher:   Farrar Straus Giroux
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