Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.
The Crippen Case in Context
This first session will outline the Edwardian context of the case and will explore its reception in the summer and autumn of 1910. Drawing upon the extensive contemporaneous newspaper coverage, and upon the memoirs and reminiscences of key investigators in the case, we will explore the competing reasons why this case above others should have fired the imaginations of the Golden Age crime novelists.
Crippen and Christie: partners in crime?
We will chart the reimagining of the Crippen case by preeminent Golden Age novelist, Agatha Christie. We will study Christie’s direct use of the Crippen story in the 1952 novel Mrs McGinty’s Dead; and her more oblique reimagining of the case’s outcome in The Labours of Hercules (1947) as well as charting the role of ‘Crippenesque’ motifs across the wider corpus of her works and even in aspects of her biography.
From detective fiction to crime novels.
In this session we will explore the centrality of the Crippen story in the wider movement of Golden Age novels from detective fiction to crime fiction. Discussion will focus on Francis Isles’ Malice Aforethought (1931) and Ernest Raymond’s We, The Accused (1935), with further texts and contexts supplied in extract.
‘The Ladies in the Case’
This session will explore the narratives retrospectively provided to the two female protagonists in the Crippen case. We will explore Ursula Bloom’s 1955 quasi-historical novel, The Girl Who Loved Crippen; examine extracts from Ethel le Neve’s ghost-written memoirs of her experience as Crippen’s mistress, and the story of Crippen’s wife as presented in the incongruous genre of 1960 West End musical, Belle.
The Crippen Legacy in Modern Fiction
This last session will explore a range of modern renditions and adaptations of the Crippen case. Our main focus will be on John Boyne’s 2004 novel Crippen, with extracts also considered from such texts as Peter Lovesey’s The False Inspector Dew (1982); and Martin Edwards’, Dancing for the Hangman (2008).
Destination: Wallingford Museum, Cholsey Parish Church
Excursion Rating: Moderate
Up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.