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Kate Summerscale- The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer

By richmondlit, Sep 15 2016 08:48AM

One of the highlights of this year’s festival is multi award-winning author Kate Summerscale talking about her new novel The Wicked Boy, a gripping account of a murder case that sent Victorian Britain into a frenzy. Here’s a taster of this extraordinary story:

Early in the morning on Monday 8 July 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes and his twelve-year-old brother Nattie set out from their small, yellow-brick terraced house in East London to watch a cricket match at Lord’s. Their father had gone to sea the previous Friday, leaving the boys and their mother at home for the summer.

Over the next ten days Robert and Nattie spent extravagantly, pawning family valuables to fund trips to the theatre and seaside. During this time nobody saw or heard from their mother, though the boys told the neighbours she was visiting relatives. As the sun beat down on the Coombes house, an awful smell began to emanate from the building and the police were called to investigate.

What the police found in one of the bedrooms sent the press into a frenzy of horror and alarm, and Robert and Nattie were swept up in a criminal trial that would stun the nation.

Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Galaxy British Book of the Year Award, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama.

Friday 4 November 7.30pm Riverside Room, Old Town Hall £7.50/£6

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