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.