The wicked boy: the mystery of a Victorian child murderer
"This is a hopeful story – albeit about as terrible a crime as we can imagine": Kate Summerscale talks to Matt Elton about her new book exploring a case that shocked Victorian England – a young boy's murder of his mother – and its echoes in 21st-century fears...
What is the case that your new book follows, and why did it interest you?
The book follows the story of two boys: Robert Coombes, who was 13 years old, and his 12-year-old brother, Nathaniel. In the summer of 1895 they were seen wandering around east London, and said that their mother had gone to visit family in Liverpool; their father was away at sea. After 10 days an unpleasant smell began to emanate from the house, and neighbours became uneasy.