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THE PRINCE OF POISONERS
William Palmer was known to all in Rugeley. The son from a wealthy family had trained in London as a surgeon and returned to the English village with his beautiful, respected wife to raise a family and live out his days as a country doctor.
But Dr. Palmer wanted more. More money. More excitement. More women. He dove into the shady world of horse racing, gambling heavily and spending a fortune to build his stable of thoroughbreds. When money grew tight, he found that a dosed drink or two could clear the way. He got away with it, poisoning his wife, mother-in-law, his infant children, fellow gamblers and many more, until he killed one time too many.
The story of Dr. Palmer’s deadly treatments at the birth of the mass media riveted the nation and spread around the world. The sensational 12-day trial in London’s Old Bailey drew the attention of royalty (Prince Albert bought one of Palmer’s horses at auction) and literature (Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins followed the case) and made legal history as the first trial in which strychnine figured and the first to be moved because of the enormous publicity.
Appearing soon after Palmer’s execution in 1856, “The Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer” was published to cash in on the notorious case. The anonymous author combined facts and rumors about Palmer’s crimes with sketches on debauched medical students and crooked scams in horse racing, and pious meditations on Palmer’s wife. With the help of footnotes and essays, the result is a compelling, fascinating look at life in the early Victorian era, and the criminal doctor who was placed “at the head of his profession” by none other than Sherlock Holmes!
Look for these other Peschel Press books on the Palmer case: “The Illustrated Times Trial of William Palmer” and “The Life and Career of Dr. William Palmer of Rugeley”.