Trials of Passion: Crimes in the name of love and madness

Trials of Passion

If you like true crime, Lisa Appignanesi’s book Trials of Passion  investigates the motives and thinking of the time on insanity leading to such crimes. Here’s a taste, no pun intended, of one of the crimes which began in Brighton on 8th August 1871.

“The chocolate cream poisoner,” Christiana Edmunds, was the unmarried daughter of a once famous British architect. She  set off from Brighton ostensibly to visit her sister’s grave in Margate, about a hundred miles away. 

Travelling on her own, she rented a room in Margate for two nights (unusual) and then moved on to London. She left behind boxes in rented room which contained a variety of ‘sweetmeats’. These turned out to have been doctored with strychnine and were posted to well-known Brighton people . The town was left living in fear.

Her motive?  She was passionately in love with a married doctor, who wanted to end their relationship. He told her to stop writing to him – he had a wife, a wife who became her first target.