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Trial by jury and newspaper reportage: re-writing women’s stories from legal transcripts and contemporaneous journalism
journal contributionposted on 06.07.2018, 00:00 by Donna Brien, R Franks
High-profile criminal cases often pique intense public interest at the time they are being acted out in the courts, and some cases maintain a place in the popular imagination. A few cases will result in narratives that successfully re-narrate the protagonists’ stories in what could be described as fully fleshed, satisfying biographical studies. This article examines the high profile cases of Mary Dean (poisoned by her husband in 1895) and Mary Jane Hicks (sexually assaulted by a gang of men in 1886) and how their stories, reduced to the facts distilled from copious legal documentation and newspaper reportage, have seen these women fade; their stories, though repeatedly re-told, contain both Dean and Hicks as unimagined and obscure.