Open Book Blog Hop – A historical figure who interests me

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Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today’s topic is:

What historical/public figure would you most like to learn more about? Would you ever write about them?

The short answer to this question is that I am fascinated by many historical figures and I do write about them.

Amelia Dyer was an English serial killer who murdered infants in her care over a thirty year period.

Amelia was trained as a nurse and after being widowed in 1869, she turned to ‘baby farming’ to support herself. Baby farming was the practice of fostering unwanted (illegitimate) babies for a sum of money.

A few children died in her care, possibly accidentally, and Amelia was arrested for neglect and sentenced to six months of hard labour. After serving her time, she started murdering children she ‘adopted’ through strangulation. The bodies were disposed of in the River Thames.

Amelia was arrested on the 4th of April 1896 after the corpse of a murdered infant, together with evidence leading to her, was discovered in the river. She was found guilty of the murder of Doris Marmon and hanged on the 10th of June 1896. Although she was only convicted of one murder, Amelia Dyer was believed to be responsible for the deaths of approximately 400 infants.

I would like to try to understand the psychology of a female who was able to put aside all maternal feelings and brutally murder so many babies in her care. How did she feel about the murders? Did she have any remorse or did she convince herself they were unworthy of life due to their illegitimate status?

I have written about Amelia Dyer more than once. I wrote a post about her for Smorgasbord blog which you can read here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-baby-farming-in-the-late-victorian-era-britain-and-amelia-dyer-by-robbie-cheadle/

Amelia Dyer is also the subject of my short story, Justice is Never Served, which is included in Death Among Us, a murder mystery anthology.

Amelia also makes an appearance in Through the Nethergate as the housekeeper who sees to Margaret’s needs during her time in Hell. Amelia is described as a most horrible woman. This is a short extract:

Margaret knew someone was watching her before she heard the words.

“Wake up, you lazy brat.” The harsh voice penetrated Margaret’s light morning sleep, snapping her awake.

She sat up in bed and looked at the latest entrant into her life with startled eyes. As understanding penetrated her waking mind, deadly fear shot through her heart and she drew back with an exclamation of horror.

The face peering at her from just inside the door was ugly. Cold, hard eyes, like chips of flint, glared at her from a countenance deeply etched with lines of discontent and hatred towards others. Her face and hands were covered with welts, inflamed and oozing pus.

She was surrounded by a cloud of miniature forms, like tiny babies with wings. Their bodies were naked and horribly emaciated. It was their faces that shocked Margaret. Huge mouths dominated the tiny heads, full of sharp teeth like ivory needles. They hovered like a cloud of flies around the unsightly woman. Every
now and then one would dart forward and latch itself to an exposed piece of her skin. Sucking onto her flesh like tiny vampires.

What could she possibly have done to deserve such a fate? I can’t believe those creatures. They are disgusting.

Margaret shuddered and she felt her knees trembling under the bedclothes.

“Get dressed and come and eat your breakfast.” The woman turned and made her way carefully down the stairs.

Margaret quickly dressed and made the bed. She stumbled down the creaking stairs and into the dining room.”

Who would you like to learn more about? Add your own blog by clicking the button below, or just leave a comment.

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41 thoughts on “Open Book Blog Hop – A historical figure who interests me

    1. Yes, the baby farmers used to give the infants laudanum and it used to make them to sleep to feed so they died of starvation. I recall a quote that the streets of Victorian London were littered with the bodies of dead infants.

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    1. HI Priscilla, I rather liked that description which is why I included it. Just desserts for Amelia. Margaret does have rather a rough time in this story, but she does have some great ghostly help too. It is interesting for me to go back to this book and re-visit my own writing which is constantly changing and, I hope, improving.

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  1. That snippet is truly chilling, Robbie. I think many of us are fascinated by serial killers, because their thought process is so alien from ours.
    I found Cornelis Drebbel interesting and researched him and his inventions before making him into a fictional-fantasy character. Also blues icon, Robert Johnson. I enjoyed working on both. Maybe I’ll do something similar again, thanks to your post. Well done, Robbie. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Liz, there was a Netflix bio about him that was really well done. The combination of the legend about Johnson and the devil at the cross roads, combined with Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” (an unlikely pairing I know…) inspired a lot of my novella “Brother Love, a Crossroad”. Erm… loosely inspired. LOL.

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      1. Thank you kindly, Robbie. Maybe that can be part of my next blog serial. I’m going to try Kindle Vella, but I’ve started a steampunk take-off on Pride & Prejudice for that.
        I’m looking forward to hosting your book tour at my place tomorrow. Hugs!

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    1. The cruelty of human beings is quite unbelievable to people like us, Balroop. I have been reading about WW1 and ‘going over the top’ by the soldiers. They basically came out of their trenches and ran into the enemy fire. It was mass suicide and I wonder how the military leaders could have thought this was okay. Today’s youth would not be so compliant, that is for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Mae, it is quite unbelievable. Interestingly enough, when I visited Sherlock Holmes house in London in 2018, her picture was on the wall of his ‘study’ as one of the greatest serial killers of all time.

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  2. That’s fascinating. I’d never heard of baby farming before. Sad what women used to have to do to make a living. Even sadder that she snapped.

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  3. Motivation is a mystery with much of the history of evil. I wonder if some of these people even knew themselves why they did what they did. (K)

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  4. It would be fascinating to get a glimpse into the psyche of Amelia Dyer. I cannot imagine what would make any woman (or man) snap that badly. Thanks for sharing, Robbie.

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