When 28-year-old Ruth Ellis shot her lover, David Blakely, in 1955, she set in motion a trial that rocked the country. Found guilty, she was sentenced to death and became the last woman to be hanged in Britain. With many theories about what really happened, this account attempts to lay out the facts, rather than speculating on hearsay and unprovable notions.
This is the third book I’ve read by Carol Ann Lee and like the others (The Murders at White House Farm and Evil Relations), has been meticulously researched, using new interviews and previously unpublished sources. The author has a knack for recreating the social and historical context of the times, exploring the mores and standards which cannot fail to have influenced the attitudes of many of the people involved in the trial, including the perceived class differences between Ellis and Blakely. Setting the sorry tale firmly within the reality of Ruth’s life and background, it delves into her relationships not only with David Blakely and Desmond Cussen, but shows the impact Blakely’s friends the Findlaters had on Ruth, and which may have contributed to her decision to kill her lover.
‘A Fine Day for a Hanging’ is a fascinating and thoroughly absorbing book that will interest anyone interested in crime and punishment in post-war Britain.