My Name Is Martha Brown
By: Nicola ThorneBased on a true story, a captivating tale of passionate love and violent death in 1850s Dorset.
In 1856, Martha Brown was hanged for the murder of her husband. Among those who witnessed her death was a sixteen-year-old local lad, and the memory of her execution haunted him for the rest of his life.
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Book DescriptionBased on a true story, a captivating tale of passionate love and violent death in 1850s Dorset.
In 1856, Martha Brown was hanged for the murder of her husband. Among those who witnessed her death was a sixteen-year-old local lad, and the memory of her execution haunted him for the rest of his life. Writing many years later, he said: 'I remember what a fine figure she showed against the sky as she hung in the misty rain, and how the tight black silk gown set off her shape as she wheeled half-round and back.' The writer was Thomas Hardy.
Martha Brown, one of a large family, was an ordinary woman of humble parentage, her father an itinerant dairyman. Very little is known about her tragic life, and she remains tantalising and elusive. It is not whether or not she did kill her husband that intrigues so much as the mystery of her origins, the tragic circumstances of her life, the injustice of her rushed trial and subsequent execution.
According to contemporary accounts Martha was 'a wonderful-looking woman with beautiful curls', who had a propensity for choosing the wrong husband. Her first husband Bernard was twenty years her senior. Her second, John Brown, twenty years younger. Marriage to a handsome younger man could perhaps release her, a lonely widow, from a life of tedium and drudgery. But why did John Brown marry Martha? Some said it was for her money, but did the age difference which eventually led him into the arms of a much younger woman, pretty flirtatious Mary Davis, precipitate jealousy that resulted in murder if murder it was?
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