A deadly obsession in Victorian London

When 40,000 Londoners watched a man hang for slitting an aristocrat's throat in May 1840, opponents of the death penalty railed at the barbarity of the punishment. So why, asks Clare Walker Gore, were they also beguiled by the ghastly spectacle?

An illustration of a public execution at Newgate, London, late 18th century. (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

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