Ruth Ellis the last hanged woman in Britain

Ruth Ellis' beauty and glamour couldn't save her from the gallows for the murder of her boyfriend

Ruth Ellis the last hanged woman in BritainWhen I was growing-up in Ireland, the Dublin newspapers were very fond of British murder trials. By their nature, the stories were luridly dramatic, particularly those that ended with the perpetrator going to the gallows. And perhaps the most dramatic was the case of Ruth Ellis, the last woman executed in Britain. Ellis was 28…

The man who cheated death again and again

Caryl Chessman won eight stays of execution until the gas chamber finally caught up with him on May, 2, 1960

The man who cheated death again and againHe’s a forgotten figure now but there was a time when anyone following the news cycle would have known who Caryl Chessman was. Sentenced to death in California on June 25, 1948, Chessman won eight stays of execution until the gas chamber finally caught up with him on May, 2, 1960. In the process, he…

The tragedy of Oscar Wilde

The Anglo-Irish playwright, poet and novelist ended up imprisoned, the casualty of his own foolishness

The tragedy of Oscar WildeOnce upon a time, I had an uncomplicated view of capital punishment. I was against it. Period. And a reading of the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde could reduce me to tears. Even now with a much more nuanced view of the subject, the power of the language still moves me.…