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Capital Punishment

Key Reading

  • Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England, chapter 10

Further Reading

  • Zoe Dyndor, 'Death recorded: Capital Punishment and the Press in Northampton', Midland History, 2008
  • Stephen Gambrel, "If He Was to be Heard, He Had to be Killed" : Language from the Old Bailey to the Gallows', in Mark Allen and Daniel Messara, The Captivity Narrative
  • D. Garland, Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies
  • V A C Gatrell, The Hanging Tree
  • R. McGowen, ‘ A Powerful Sympathy: Terror, the Prison and Humanitarian Reform in Nineteenth-Century England’, Journal of British Studies, 25 (1986), pp. 312-34
    R. McGowen, ‘Civilising Punishment: The End of the Public Execution in England’, Journal of British Studies, 33 (1994), pp. 257-82
  • G. Rose, The Struggle for Penal Reform: the Howard League and its Predecessors
  • J Rowbotham, ‘Execution as Punishment in England: 1750-2000’ in A Kilday and D Nash (eds.) Histories of Crime: Britain 1600-2000

  • Lizzie Seal, 'Violet Van Der Elst’s Use of Spectacle and Militancy in her Campaign Against the Death Penalty in England', Law, Crime and History, 2013
  • Pieter Spierenburg, Violence and punishment : civilizing the body through time (Chapter on capital punishment)
  • E Tuttle, Crusade Against Capital Punishment in Britain
  • John Walliss, 'Representations of Justice Executed at Norwich Castle: A Comparative Analysis of Execution Reports in The Norfolk Chronicle and Bury and Norwich Post, 1805-1867', Law, Crime and History, 2013


  • What were the main changes in capital punishment in the long nineteenth century? What motivated the reforms?
  • Why did public executions end?
  • Who campaigned against the dealth penalty and why?
  • How was capital punishment reported and represented?