Episode 89: Forty Whacks: Lizzie Borden

We all know that Lizzie Borden took an axe. We know she gave her father forty whacks; her mother forty-one; and that she got away with murder. Or do we? Her father received under twenty axe wounds, her STEPmother under ten. The murder weapon was probably a hatchet; not an axe, but nothing rhymes with ‘hatchet’ in the same catchy way. If we are honest about the number of whacks we lose that attractive assonance with ‘Borden’ and ‘forty’. Do these poetic elements justify Lizzie’s bad wrap? What really happened on  August 4, 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts? Join us this week as we take a look at the famous unsolved murders of Abby and Andrew Borden, and the things about their daughter Lizzie that made people believe she was just dangerous enough to be suspected. We will take a look at the cultural ideas of spinsters, and the rise of the independent women in America; as we try to separate fact from fiction.

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SOURCES:

Lizzie takes a bow, 1894

Indianapolis Journal,Indianapolis, Marion County, 4 February 1894

Lizzie Borden: Why a 19th-Century Axe Murder Still Fascinates Us – Rolling Stone

Lizzie Borden Didn’t Kill Her Parents (Maybe) – Smithsonian

An Early Loss of Bloom: Spinsters, Old Maids, and the Marriage Market in Persuasion” Dashielle Horn

From spinsters to single ladies: the revolution of unmarried women

ORIGINAL SPIN: ON THE HISTORY OF THE SPINSTER

Louisa May Alcott, Spinster, Enjoys Valentine’s Day 1868

Spinster Tales and Womanly Possibilities By Naomi Braun Rosenthal

LIZZIE BORDEN TOOK AN AX? – Prairie Ghosts

Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast

Origins: Lizzie Borden

Folklore not kind to Lizzie Borden Acquitted of ax murders – Baltimore Sun

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