On 14 June 1856, after a scandalous and extremely high-profile trial, Dr William Palmer was hanged for the poisoning of his friend John Parsons Cook. The case was one of the most infamous of its time, and as the 12-day trial unfolded, accusations of no less than 14 murders came to light.
Dr Palmer's reputation as one of England's most famed poisoners has become so widespread that his effigy now appears in Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors; but perhaps most scandalous was the way the Lord Chief Justice, the Attorney-General and the jury contrived against Palmer to secure a verdict of guilty as charged, despite the conflicting evidence.
A century after Palmer's public execution, Robert Graves revisits the case to determine what the evidence really says. They Hanged My Saintly Billy is Palmer's story, and a dramatic tale of murderous intrigue and betrayal.
Robert von Ranke Graves (24 July 1895 - 7 December 1985) was an English poet and novelist, scholar, translator and writer of antiquity, specialising in Classical Greece and Rome. During his long life he produced more than 140 works. Graves's translations and innovative analysis and interpretations of the Greek myths, the memoir of his early life, Good-Bye To All That, and his speculative study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess, have never been out of print.
Graves earned his living by writing popular historical novels, including I, Claudius (for which he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), King Jesus, The Golden Fleece and Count Belisarius. He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961 and made an honorary fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, in 1971.
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