V historian Lucy Worsley will explore 10 of the most shocking violent crimes of the Victorian era carried out by women in a new true crime podcast.
Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley on BBC Radio 4 will see her joined by a team of female historians, lawyers, journalists and psychologists to investigate the crimes of Victorian women from a contemporary feminist perspective. They will why the killers did it and and what the crimes reveal about the role of women in the 19th century.
Among the 10 stories will be two of Britain’s most notorious serial killers: Amelia Dyer, who is thought to have killed hundreds of babies and children entrusted to her care by desperate mothers, and Mary Ann Cotton, who murdered three of her husbands and numerous children and stepchildren.
Worsley will also examine the US trial of Lizzie Borden, which saw women pack the courtroom to watch proceedings as she was acquitted of the axe murders of her father and stepmother.
She will also look at the case of Hannah Mary Tabbs, an African-American woman who killed her lover, and how race had an impact.
Each episode will see Worsley look at the crime, how it was received at the time and how it compares with what happens today.
Worsley said: ‘Quite a few true-crime podcasts like to titillate and condemn – what I’ve set out to do is to understand these women who killed.
“The historical records of their crimes give us a keyhole through which to look into some fascinating Victorian lives, none of which were easy. I’ve also completely loved working with my fabulous all-female team of modern-day detectives.”
Rhian Roberts, commissioning editor for Radio 4, said: “These dark stories are brought to life by the way Lucy and the team investigate.
“When you hear the court testimonies and the letters these women wrote, it sends shivers down your spine and those Victorian black and white images spring to life. Lucy’s found a new way to ask the question ‘whodunnit?’”
The series will be available as a box set only on BBC Sounds from April 25, and it will broadcast every Wednesday at 11.30am from April 27 on BBC Radio 4.