Spies in Suburbia

The fifth instalment in Mitzi Szereto’s The Best New True Crime Stories is out now. Partners in Crime features my piece, Spies in Suburbia. It is the first time I have written about a true crime set entirely outside the nineteenth century. In many ways the mid twentieth century is as distant from us as […]

Mary Kelly’s grave

On 19 November 1888 the woman who called herself Mary Jane Kelly was buried. Huge crowds arrived to mourn the victim of Jack the Ripper and she has since been portrayed in literature and films with her true identity still unknown. Claims that she was Elizabeth Weston-Davies prompted a team of researchers to conclude that […]

Never forget

In 2018 I contributed to a Doctor Who charity anthology, Time Shadows Second Nature. This week three separate things reminded me of this. The most recent Doctor Who episode is, like the story, set during the Crimean War. Secondly, I was revising my biography of William Onion, who joined the Marines when they were fighting […]

Letter to Old Boss, 133 years ago

On 29 October 1888 someone wrote a letter to Doctor Openshaw at the London Hospital. Earlier that month a kidney had been sent through the post to George Lusk, chairman of a vigilante committee, with a letter claiming to be from hell and Jack the Ripper. Openshaw’s professional opinion on the kidney was circulated in […]

Back into Fiction

For the last three years I have been working on non-fiction projects, having previously spent about half of my writing time on fiction. This wasn’t a conscious change in strategy, rather a response to the market. I still receive guidelines for fiction anthologies and see if I have anything suitable or enough time to create […]

Changing assumptions

When writing biography, you should understand your subject. After six years of researching William Onion’s life, I came to know him as an honest man. He admitted his many faults and his recollection of events tallied reasonably well with other sources. At the age of eleven he saw a woman executed for theft and claimed […]

Burns and Onion

In January 1888 two men were exercising in a prison yard. One had hidden a loaf of bread in his trousers and produced it for the other to eat. That was the start of a most unlikely friendship between John Burns and William Onion, who went on to become famous in their time for entirely […]