Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Sensational Crime and the Press

Key Reading

  • Clive Emsley, Crime and Society, chapter 2

Further Reading

  • J. Carter Wood, '“Those who have had trouble can sympathise with you”: Press writing, reader responses and a murder trial in interwar Britain', Journal of Social History, 43 (2009), pp. 339–462.
  • Carolyn A Conley, ‘Wars among savages: homicide and ethnicity in the Victorian United Kingdom’, Journal of British Studies, 2005
  • Jennifer Davis, 'The London garrotting panic of 1862', in V A C Gatrell, Bruce Lenman and Geoffrey Parker, Crime and the Law
  • Mary Beth Emmerichs, ‘Getting away with murder? Homicide and the coroners in 19th century London’, Social Science History, 2001
  • Clive Emsley, 'Violent crime in England in 1919: post-war anxieties and press narratives', Continuity and Change, 23 (2008), pp. 173–195.
  • Russell Grigg, 'Getting away with murder, infanticide in Wales', Local Historian, 2014
  • Richard Ward, 'Print culture, moral panic and the administration of the law: the London crime wave of 1744', Crime, History and Society, 16 (2012)
  • R. Breton, 'Crime reporting in Chartist newspapers', Media History, 2013
  • Mary S Hartman, ‘Murder for respectability: the case of Madeline Smith’, Victorian Studies, 1973
  • Peter King, 'Making crime news: newspapers, violent crime and the selective reporting of Old Bailey trials in the late eighteenth century', Crime, History and Societies, 13 (2009), pp. 91–116.
  • Peter King, 'Newspaper reporting and attitudes to crime and justice in late eighteenth and early nineteeth century London',Continuity and Change, 22 (2007), pp. 73–112
  • Peter King, ‘Newspaper Reporting, Prosecution Practice and Perceptions of Urban Crime; The Colchester Crime Wave of 1765’,Continuity and Change, 2 (1987), pp. 423-454
  • Judith Knelman, ‘Women murderers in Victorian Britain’, History Today, 1998
  • David Lemmings and Claire Walker, Moral Panics and the Media in Early Modern England
  • Andrew Mangham, Violent women and sensation fiction : crime, medicine and Victorian popular culture
  • Josephine McDonagh, Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900
  • Martin Weiner, ‘Murder and the modern British historian’, Albion, 2004


  • What caused moral panics and how were these treated by the press? Does this change over time?
  • How does the treatment of sensational cases reveal growing social, racial and gender anxieties in Victorian Britain?
  • How were murderers treated by the press? Were women murderers or child murderers treated differently than men murdering other men?
  • How useful is the press as a source for studying sensational crime?