‘Theirs, not mine, are the stories that should have been told, but all we hear in their wake is silence. Dead silence.’
In the late 1820s, two Irish Immigrants, William Burke and William Hare, murdered 16 individuals and sold their corpses to Dr. Robert Knox, who used them for anatomical dissections at the University of Edinburgh. Their gruesome killing spree ended when Hare turned King’s Evidence, with Burke being hanged and dissected himself. However, the question of whether their female accomplices, Nelly McDougal and Margaret Hare, were involved, has never been conclusively determined.
In Bodysnatcher, Carol Margaret Davison, professor of English Literature and women’s studies, places Nelly centre stage in this sordid story, granting a voice to a woman whose perspective has never been heard.
Told by way of alternating confessions, Bodysnatcher is both a graphic depiction of one of Edinburgh’s most notorious crimes, and a domestic story of a relationship unravelled by secrecy and violence. The novel dives deep into the twisted psychology of William Burke, giving the reader an inside look at a mind descending into madness.
Deepening the mystery is the discovery of 17 dolls found in wooden coffins in Arthur’s Seat seven years after the murders.
A blend of true crime and gothic horror, Bodysnatcher is a powerful portrayal of desperation, poverty, and the disempowerment of women. It also exposes the potential corruption of institutions and authority figures, and it may leave the reader in doubt as to whether all the criminals were actually caught.
Carol Margaret Davison is a professor of English Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Windsor in Canada. She has written many articles on Gothic, Victorian, postcolonial and African-American literature. She has also authored several books on Gothic studies, including Anti-Semitism and British Gothic Literature (Palgrave Macmillan 2004), shortlisted for the J.I. Segal Award, and History of the Gothic: Gothic Literature, 1764-1824 (University of Wales Press, 2009), shortlisted for the International Gothic Association’s Allan Lloyd Smith Memorial Prize. She is also the Director of the Sickly Taper website, the world’s largest Gothic bibliography website. Bodysnatcher is her first novel.
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ISBN 9778-1-901514-83-4 Price £12.99