Celebrated author, biographer and renaissance man, Charles Higham has died at the age of 81. He will probably be best remembered for his sometimes scathing biographies of world figures and celebrities. Two years ago Mr. Higham called to discuss his current project, a theory book on the Borden case. He thought he had come up with something new and exciting. His thought was that Emma and John Morse were thick in the plot to do away with the Bordens. I suggested he come to Fall River to get a better perspective on the crime scene, the city, and the circumstances. He adamantly refused to consider a trip, which is unfortunate. He also seemed dismayed that this idea of Morse and Emma was far from being a new theory. He never called again and the manuscript remained dormant on the shelf. Was he discouraged that he had not solved the crime? One wonders if his manuscript will now ever be published.
So much has been happening in the Borden sphere of late that you need a program to keep up. Not all has been happy news, but most has been cause for celebration.
1. The Central Congregational Church: Things are looking grim for Lizzie’s old church on Rock Street with hopes high yet for a reprieve once again. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x962233671/Fall-Rivers-former-Central-Congregational-faces-wrecking-ball
2. HBO Mini Series The much-anticipated four-hour series starring Chloe Sevigny and backed by Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions is still simmering on the back burner. Hopefully when Miss Sevigny wraps her latest project, this fresh take on the Borden saga will get cookin’!
3. Donation of Andrew Jennings’ private notes and journal to the Fall River Historical Society was the exciting news this past weekend as the famous “hip bath collection” yielded one more treasure which was turned over to the historical society. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x1785609188/Handwritten-journals-from-Lizzie-Borden-lawyer-donated-to-FRHS
4. Parallel Lives is recognized at New England Book Fair http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x570348962/Parallel-Lives-book-on-Lizzie-Borden-wins-honorable-mention
5. Coming Soon! Fall River Revisited by Stefani Koorey. Preorder now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0738576840/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk
6. The Dead Files visit in January to the Borden house should be airing March 16th at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. Check the website for schedule and more on hosts, Amy and Steve. http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files
The temps are falling and the long quiet season has arrived. After the excitement of the release of Parallel Lives in November, the Victorian house tour in December and virtually a year’s worth of Lizzie suspense, we’re all looking for January adventures. Many of us are reading the massive volume, Parallel Lives. Down on Second Street, the B&B is only open weekends for overnighters although the day tours continue through the week. The B&B web site has had an overhaul. Re-runs of last year’s paranormal sessions at #92 are in full tilt on television, no update on the Chloe Sevigny HBO mini-series has been released yet, and the historical society is closed for the winter.
“Axed”, two one-act plays has debuted and will be running this month http://www.pressherald.com/life/go/on-the-case_2012-01-05.htm No new ideas here, but a fresh treatment. January is a great time for catching up on our Lizzie reading and some new entries in the historical crime arena. W&W recommends Murder and Mayhem in Essex County by Robert Wilhelm. Murder and mischief was alive and well in Massachusetts long before Miss Lizzie! http://www.murder-in-essex.com/ If the name sounds familiar, Mr. Wilhelm also publishes the popular vintage crime blog, Murder by Gaslight and The National Nightstick, all great reading for the amateur armchair sleuth on a cold winter’s night. http://murderbygasslight.blogspot.com/ and http://www.snakeoilgraphics.com/NightStick/ Stay tuned for reviews. Here’s wishing you a cozy January by the fire and a good wallow in crimes of the Past.
Christmas came early this year for those who enjoy Fall River history and have an interest in the Borden case and the enigmatic Miss Lizzie. Parallel Lives was released this morning to the public. By 11: 30 a.m. a long line snaked its way down the pavement toward Maple Street and there was a feeling of restless expectation in the air as the noon hour approached. . A man came around the corner bearing two copies of the coveted tome as heads swiveled to catch a glimpse. A spontaneous outburst of appreciation went up from the crowd followed by many comments as to the SIZE of the massive tome.
No preview copies were released for reviewing to anyone, so it was with enormous excitement today’s release was anticipated. Beginning on Friday, the benefactors of the publication enjoyed a special gathering, followed by Saturday night’s annual Christmas Open House for members, and capping off an extraordinary weekend with today’s public release of the book, viewing of a special exhibit of materials featured in the book (cards, letters, gifts Lizzie presented to friends, etc.) and a tour of the Christmas decorations, always an annual treat.
The authors held court in the front parlor at a beautifully decorated table with a red rose Christmas arrangement, signing autographs and having photographs taken with visitors. On the lawn, on the stairs, and anywhere one could sit, people clutched their volume, looking eagerly through the pages. From all corners came appreciative little shrieks of excitement as never-before-seen photos were discovered, especially those showing Lizzie herself. Even those who vowed not to ruin the surprise until they could sit at leisure soon gave way to overwhelming curiosity and were soon leafing furiously through the pages. Some had driven hours to pick up their copies.
It would be presumptuous to attempt any sort of review of this major work until the whole was digested, therefore the Warps & Wefts review will be forthcoming in the near future. Suffice it to say, Parallel Lives is as plummy a Christmas pudding as anyone could ever wish for, chock full of juicy morsels, delicious facts and photos, fascinating history, surprises and many hours of enthralled reading. To reveal too much would be to ruin your own Christmas surprise- so-
Just spring to your sleigh, to your team give a whistle,
To Rock Street fly like the down of a thistle.
Parallel Lives is the gift sure to please, so take heed,
Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read!
Have your copy of Parallel Lives autographed. Pre-ordered your copy? Not to worry, pick it up Sunday at the Fall River Historical Society Book Signing! Don’t let your friends beat you to the punch! 1000 pages and over 500 photos. You just may have to take your vacation next week! Come back over the holidays to see a very special exhibit of ephemera and other items discovered while researching for the book: notes, cards, letters and more from Lizzie’s own hand. Who could ask for anything more?
The sweet-faced lady on the piazza holding her pet is a far cry from the caricature of the raging homicidal spinster so often portrayed as being Lizzie Borden. The bobbleheads, tee shirts, and cartoons may have to undergo a re-do. Parallel Lives, the long-awaited biography of Lizzie and her times has released this amazing photograph of Lizzie with one of her Boston bull terriers (Laddie Miller), said to be taken around 1916 on the back porch of her French St. home, Maplecroft.
Followers of the Borden case will be drinking in every detail of her dress, her furnishings, her expression. A picture is worth a thousand words. The thick volume, studded with over 500 photos may be pre-ordered from the Fall River Historical Society. For the full story and link to order click on this link http://www.heraldnews.com/features/x464394189/Historical-Society-announces-first-true-biography-of-Lizzie-Borden
So will this photo and new bio change your mind about Lizzie?
Just in time for Lizzie’s birthday: the guide to Borden-related graves in Oak Grove Cemetery. The booklet contains maps, biographies of people connected with the case who are buried at Oak Grove, three walking tours with maps of how to locate both minor and major personalities in the Borden story, a history of the cemetery, fun facts and trivia, who is NOT buried at Oak Grove connected to the Borden case, and articles on the Victorian celebration of death, symbolism on funerary statuary and much more! Designed in a black and white “Edward Goreyesque” style, the publication will go on sale July 19th. Pricing and outlets which will stock the guide will be finalized and announced here on July 15th.
Today the Fall River Historical Society has released the working cover art for its long-awaited volume, Parallel Lives, a history of Lizzie Borden’s Fall River. The cover features an expanded view of the famous “pansy brooch” portrait of Lizzie, with her dress tinted in a rich shade of burgundy and was designed by Charles S. Medeiros of Burnt Toast Graphics. It is a rare treat to see colorized photographs of the well-known black and white images so familiar to students of the Borden case. The rich hue used for the dust jacket is one which perfectly reflects Victoriana. Lizzie truly comes to life. The photograph in black and white featured in the background is of the wedding day of the William Lawton Slade Braytons, June 18, 1913.
For all the latest on publication date, follow the historical society online at http://www.lizzieborden.org/ParallelLives.html and on Facebook. The volume is currently in final revision with a publication date soon to come- and not a minute too soon for the many eager enthusiasts and historians who are eager for the new photographs of the Bordens and more than 500 photographs in all.
The Killer Book of Infamous Murders, by Tom Philpin and Michael Philpin will be published in February and available on Amazon March 1st.The book examines crimes recent and past, going as far back as the 1800s. The book includes the Lizzie Borden case, the horrifying murders that inspired Truman Capote’s novel, “In Cold Blood,” and the Dr. Sam Shepperd case, which inspired “The Fugitive” movie and TV series.
This is a follow-up to The Killer Book of Serial Killers which was published January 2009 by the same authors.
In case you missed it- an old theory back for another round. Review at http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8028572-lizzie-borden-didnt-do-ittrue-crime-solved Hard copy by Branden Books, or available now for Kindle.
Among the Library of Congress collection of unusual broadsides, (those prolific paper tributes written by budding writers about popular topics of the moment), rests this Lizzie Borden case effort by Mr. Beard of New Hampshire, who gives his home address at the bottom of the page, no doubt in hopes of hearing from a publisher keen to publish his opus.
Thanks to CLEWS crime blog for bringing this to our attention a few years ago. If you missed it then, here it is again.
One of the most-viewed features of Warps and Wefts this year has been the newspaper clippings from all over the country detailing the most minute bits of information about the Borden case and personalities involved. Of course newspapers do make mistakes, and when information is lacking, some unscrupulous reporters were not above inventing details to fill in the gaps. With a little careful sifting, there are some golden nuggets to be found. Thanks to Ancestry.com and Newspaper Archives.com, all of this is available to the public. Here is a very interesting paragraph which was buried in the Davenport (Iowa) Tribune, August 25, 1892.
It’s unfortunate the Borden family threw notes and letters away so readily. The famous note sent to Abby Borden asking her to come visit a sick friend went missing, even though a reward of $500 dollars was offered for information about the sick friend’s name, who wrote the note, and who delivered it. It was suggested by Lizzie that it may have been burned up (in the kitchen woodstove as that was the only fire in August).
Emma Borden was visiting the Brownells on Green Street in Fairhaven during the week of the murder, which must be where the letter mentioned in the article above was sent. On the morning of the murders, Lizzie gave her father a letter to mail to Emma in Fairhaven. The letter mentioned above must have been written before the letter written and given to Andrew Borden to mail on August 4th. How unfortunate Emma did not keep the letter which mentions Lizzie’s “suspicious man”, which would have added credence to her tale to the police about such a character later. Or, did Lizzie make up the “suspicious” man loitering around the property as a convenient suspect to draw attention away from herself later? To whom did Emma show that letter- most likely Mrs. Brownell and her daughter Helen. Lizzie mentioned the suspicious man idea to her friend Alice Russell the night before the murders. Was Lizzie telling the truth- or cleverly covering all of her bases? Did Emma’s friends who saw the letter ever get to relay that information to the police?
Middletown Daily News August 18, 1892 (Middletown, N.Y.)
Did Lizzie know that her father was seriously thinking about making a will? She seemed to know a great deal about her father’s real estate holdings. Here is her inquest statement about knowledge of a will:
Q. Do you know something about his real estate?
A About what?
Q. His real estate.
A I know what real estate he owned; part of it. I don’t know whether or not I know it all or not.
Q. Tell me what you know of.
A He owns two farms in Swansea, the place on Second Street and the A. J. Borden Building and corner and the land on South Main Street where McMannus is and then a short time ago, he bought some real estate up further south that formerly, he said, belonged to a Mr. Birch. .
Q. Did you know of your father making a will?
A. No sir, except I heard somebody say once that there was one several years ago. That is all I ever heard.
Q. Who did you hear say so?
A. I think it was Mr. Morse.
Q. What Morse?
A. Uncle John V. Morse.
Q. How long ago?
A. How long ago I heard him say it? I have not any idea.
Q. What did he say about it?
A. Nothing except just that.
Was Lizzie lying in her testimony? Had she overhead Andrew and her Uncle the night before the murders discussing such details about a will? Andrew was nearly 70 years old, perhaps he had decided to put something in writing and was making an inventory of his assets. A good many people seemed to think a will favoring a hefty settlement on his spouse provided a good motive for murder.
Bruce A. Brennan, attorney from DeKalb, IL released a novel on November 10, 2010. The book is historical fiction in the crime genre. The book takes place in the late 1880s through the early 1900s and involves Jack the Ripper and other infamous criminals of that period.. Jack the Ripper, Chicago’s H.H. Holmes, the Dalton gang and others make guest appearances. The novel is e-published and can be downloaded at this link. Send us your reviews! http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/11/prweb4774174.htm
About the Author:
“Bruce A. Brennan is a practicing attorney handling criminal defense work. This is his first published novel. A second one is expected within four months. He writes a daily blog and contributes to several others. This is the story of the investigation and crime solving techniques used to track down the most notorious murderer in the world. The killer plied his trade in Europe and the United States during the 1880s through the early 1900s. After an exhausting investigation, Ian Dean gets his man.”
As time grows ever closer to the release of the long-anticipated book about Lizzie, Parallel Lives, the buzz is growing in Fall River, among Borden case afficianados and in the Press. Today’s Boston Globe has this article
The countdown begins!
Web of Iniquity by Catherine Ross Nickerson
Duke University Press, Feb. 1999
Here’s one that may have slipped by unnoticed. It sells from $6- $131 dollars depending on where you hunt for it. Amazon has the best deals.
“Surveys detective fiction from the Civil War to World War II, describes how women writers created a form of domestic mystery that offered a critical view of the condition of women, and discusses works based on the Lizzie Borden case.”
For more about the book and its author visit the Duke U. Press http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=566&viewby=subject&categoryid=389&sort=author
The new issue of Yankee Magazine has a great article called “How New England Are You”, which lists the top 75 things every good yankee should see and do. The Lizzie Borden house in Fall River comes in at #72 along with Salem and haunts of the Boston Strangler! See link below.