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March 2023
1min read

A Standard introductory text is Edwin H. Porter’s The Fall River Tragedy: A History of the Borden Murders (Geo. R. H. Buffington, 1893). It contains incriminating information suppressed at the trial, and it became famous and rare, allegedly because Lizzie bought up all available copies. A facsimile edition was published in 1985. Many people read Edmund Pearson’s The Trial of Lizzie Borden (Doubleday, 1937) as a transcript, but it has been edited to demonstrate Lizzie’s guilt. In Lizzie Borden: The Untold Story (Simon & Schuster, 1961), Edward D. Radin reveals Pear- son’s bias and builds a case against Bridget Sullivan, the maid.

For legal critiques of the trial, try to get hold of John H. Wigmore’s “The Borden Case,” American Law Review 27 (Nov.-Dec. 1893) and Robert Sullivan’s Goodbye Lizzie Borden (Greene Press, 1974), which concludes that the trial judge was biased in Lizzie’s favor.

To see how Lizzie fares in the hands of a woman writer, try Victoria Lincoln’s A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967). Her theory that Lizzie killed her father and stepmother in an epileptic fit may seem far-fetched; not so her discussion of how Lizzie might have disposed of the evidence.

In the last decade scores of studies have appeared on the long-shunned subject of incest. Notable among them are: Judith Herman’s Father-Daughter Incest (Harvard University Press, 1981), a good introduction to current psychiatric research on victims, perpetrators, and their families; Christine Courtois’s Healing the Incest Wound (W. W. Norton, 1988), a study of clinical approaches to the long-term treatment of victims; and Sylvia Fraser’s My Father’s House (HarperCollins, 1989), a survivor’s poignant memoir.

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