Exhibtion Index  Credits   Bryn Mawr College Library    

Bridget DurganLife, Crimes, and Confession of Bridget Durgan, The Fiendish Murderess of Mrs. Coriel: Whom she Butchered, Hoping to Take her Place in the Affections of the Husband of her Innocent and Lovely Victim... Philadelphia: C.W. Alexander, 1867.
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Women have tended to commit fewer crimes of violence than men, but brutal or gory crimes are publicized out of proportion to their frequency, and crimes that transgress the social order (for example, killing a husband or an employer) are particularly over-reported and sensationalized.  Bridget Durgan was convicted and hanged for murdering Mrs. Coriel, her employer.  In the opening passages of this book, which also contains a text which purports to be a confession written by Durgan herself, the themes that will sound through the book are revealed: Durgan is "wretched", "brutal", a "demon girl" possessed of a "hellish design".  This account would appear to provide little opportunity for titillation, but the writer manages to inject sex into the story both by emphasizing the victim's beauty, and by asserting that Durgan wanted to marry Dr. Coriel, and that she taunted Mrs. Coriel by claiming that he had a "warm side towards" her.

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