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Women and Crime

Research the contribution of one of the following women involved in various aspects of crime in both primary and secondary sources.

  • Were they constrained by their sex?
  • What was their impact?
  • What do their lives say about the broader context of women and crime in the long nineteenth century?
Victims Police and Prison/Law Admin Criminals Reformers
Fanny Adams Mary Sophia Allen Charlotte Badger Mary Carpenter
Eliza Armstrong Lilian Barker Mary Butters Elizabeth Fry
Rachel Lee Margaret Dawson Jane Cakebread Margery Fry
  Georgie Frost Constance Kent Catherine Fraser
  Mary Gordon Marie Manning Florence Davenport Hill
  Chrystal Macmillan Maria Marten Caroline Norton
  Eliza Orme Florence Maybrick Adeline Russell
  Cornelia Sorabji Margaret Nicholson Georgina Weldon
  Ivy Williams Madeleine Smith  


Oxford DNB (use the bibliographies that accompany the biographies)

Nineteenth Century Newspapers and Periodicals

Old Bailey Online

Further Reading

(This is indicative. Use the Bibliography of British and Irish History for more specific texts)

J. Bohstedt, ‘Women in English Riots’, Past and Present, 120 (1988), 88-122
J. Beattie, ‘The Criminality of Women in the Eighteenth Century’, Journal of Social History, 8 (1975), pp. 80-116
J. Carter Wood, '“Mrs. Pace” and the ambiguous language of victimization', in Lisa Dresdner and Laurel S. Peterson, eds.(Re)Interpretations: the Shapes of Justice in Women's Experience
P. Cox, Gender, Justice and Welfare: Bad Girls in Britain, 1900-1950
Andrew Davies, ‘These Viragoes are No Less Cruel than the Lads: Young Women, Gangs and Violence in Late Victorian Manchester and Salford’, British Journal of Criminology, 39 (1999)
M. Feeley and D. Little, ‘The Vanishing Female: The Decline of Women in the Criminal Process, 1687-1912’, Law and Society Review, 25 (1991), pp. 719
E. B. Freedman, ‘Their Sisters’ Keepers: Women’s Prison Reform in America, 1830-1930’, Feminist Studies, 2 (1974)
Ginger Frost, ‘She is but a Woman: Kitty Biron and the English Edwardian Criminal Justice System’, Gender and History, 16 (2004), pp. 538-60
Peter King, ‘Destitution, Desperation and Delinquency. Female Petitions to the London Refuge for the Destitute 1805-1830’, in A. Gestrich, S. King and L. Raphael, eds. Being Poor in Modern Europe: Institutions, Surveillance and Experiences (Peter Lang, 2006), pp.157-178.
Peter King, ‘Gender, Crime and Justice in Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century England’, in M. Arnot and C. Usborne, eds. Gender and Crime in Modern Europe (London, UCL Press, 1999), pp. 44-74.
Peter King, ‘Female Offenders, Work and Lifecycle Change in Late Eighteenth Century London’, Continuity and Change, 11 (1996), pp. 61-90.
Philippa Levine, ‘Walking the Streets in a Way No Decent Woman Should: Women Police in World War I’, Journal of Modern History, 66 (1994), pp. 34-78
Anne Logan, ‘A Suitable Person for Suitable Cases: the Gendering of Juvenile Courts in England, c. 1910-1939’, Twentieth Century British History, 16 (2005)
Anne Logan, ‘In Search of Equal Citizenship: the Campaign for Women Magistrates in England and Wales, 1910-39’, Women’s History Review, 16 (2007)
Anne Logan, ‘Professionalism and the Impact of England’s First Women Justices, 1920-50’, Historical Journal, 49 (2006)
Anne Logan, Feminism and Criminal Justice
Andrew Mangham, Violent women and sensation fiction : crime, medicine and Victorian popular culture
G. Robb, ‘Women and White Collar Crime’, British Journal of Criminology, 46 (2006), pp. 1058-72
J. Sangster, ‘She is Hostile to our Ways: First Nations Girls Sentenced to the Ontario Training School for Girls, 1933-60’, Law and History Review, 20 (2003)
Lucia Zedner, Women, Crime and Custody in Victorian England