Executions and the British Experience from the 17th to the 20th Century

A Collection of Essays

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About the Book

From the trial and execution of King Charles I of England in 1649 to the reading of A.E. Houseman’s poems by Clarence Darrow in a Chicago murder trial in 1924, writers have registered their opinions and impressions of both public and private forms of execution. This collection of ten essays examines in detail the literary responses of various writers to the social issue of capital punishment during this four-century span.

About the Author(s)

William B. Thesing, distinguished professor emeritus of English at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, taught graduate and undergraduate courses for more than 30 years. He has authored or edited fifteen books, and served as editor of the James Dickey Newsletter from 2003–2008.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by William B. Thesing
Format: softcover (5.5 x 8.5)
Pages: 192
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [1990]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9372-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction
William B. Thesing 1
The Aesthetic Execution of Charles I: Clarendon to Hume
Donald T. Siebert 7
Locke and Beccaria: Faculty Psychology and Capital Punishment
Steven Lynn 29
Henry Fielding and “A Certain Wooden Edifice” Called the Gallows
Gayle R. Swanson 45
Crime and Punishment in 1777: The Execution of the Reverend Dr. William Dodd and Its Impact upon His Contemporaries
John J. Burke, Jr. 59
The Public Execution: Urban Phetoric and Victorian Crowds
Barry Faulk 77
“All the Hideous Apparatus of Death”: Dickens and Execution
F. S. Schwarzbach 93
The Execution of Tess d’Urberville at Wintoncester
Beth Kalikoff 111
The Frame for the Feeling: Hangings in Poetry by Wordsworth, Patmore, and Housman
William B. Thesing 123
“Hats Off!”: The Roots of Victorian Public Hangings
Michael Jasper 139
Public Executions in Victorian England: A Reform Adrift
David D. Cooper 149
Selected Bibliography 165
Index 173
Contributors 179

Book Reviews & Awards

“the best essays exhibiting a solid concentration of intellect on capital punishment”—South Atlantic Review; “well-written and perceptive essays”—The Georgia Review.