Ellis tragedy retold 60 years on

Ruth Ellis
Ruth Ellis

source: Stratford Herald Online
published: 23 June 2015

In 1955, 60 years ago in July, former nightclub manageress Ruth Ellis shot dead her ex-public schoolboy lover, David Blakely.

Subsequently, and following a trial that lasted less than two days, she was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. Importantly, in July 1955, she became the last woman to be hanged in Britain, and her execution is the most notorious of hangman Albert Pierrepoint’s duties.

There was a public outcry at the decision to kill her and over a thousand people gathered outside Holloway Prison on the morning of her execution shouting, “Save Ellis! Save Ellis!” In the national press the debate raged over the rights and wrongs of the death penalty.

Despite her infamy, the story of her life has often been misinterpreted and the reality behind the headlines of 1955 was buried beneath an avalanche of hearsay.

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