Poison Panic: Arsenic Deaths in 1840s Essex by Helen Barrell
Essex in the 1840s was notorious in the Victorian mind, a place where women stalked the winding country lanes searching for their next victim to poison with arsenic. The public were captivated by these stories, where death was down to 'white powder' and the evil intentions of the human heart. Poison was easy to buy, but with the dawning of forensic science and the creation of professional police forces, murderers would not escape justice.Sarah Chesham, Mary May and Hannah Southgate are the protagonists of this tale, of how rural Essex, in a country saturated with arsenic, was touched by the tumultuous 1840s. But were these women murderers or victims of circumstance?