Ruth Ellis: the [tragic] murder case we can’t forget

Ruth Ellis
Ruth Ellis

source: The Guardian
published: 12 March 2018

More than 60 years have passed since Ruth Ellis was hanged for the murder of her lover and became the last woman to be executed in Britain.

Since then there have been countless books, plays, television and radio dramas, a well-regarded film and even an attempt to have her conviction overturned at the court of appeal. [The BBC devoted] three hours to a re-examination of her case by the American film-maker Gillian Pachter. Why are we still interested in it?

For crime reporters of the era, the murder was a gift, wrapped in Chandleresque prose. “Six revolver shots shattered the Easter Sunday calm of Hampstead and a beautiful platinum blonde stood with her back to the wall. In her hand was a revolver,” was how the Daily Mail reported it.

In its coverage of her committal hearing at Hampstead magistrates court, the paper noted that “in an off-white tweed outfit with black velvet piping, [she] sat in the centre of the crowded court, calm and expressionless”.

Calm and expressionless was how she would be portrayed in the brief period between the murder on 10 April 1955 and her execution at the hands of Albert Pierrepoint in Holloway prison barely three months later.

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