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A Fine Day for a Hanging: The Real Ruth Ellis Story [Kindle Edition]

Carol Ann Lee
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1955, former nightclub manageress Ruth Ellis shot dead her lover, David Blakely. Following a trial that lasted less than two days, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. She became the last woman to be hanged in Britain, and her execution is the most notorious of hangman Albert Pierrepoint's 'duties'.

Despite Ruth's infamy, the story of her life has never been fully told. Often wilfully misinterpreted, the reality behind the headlines was buried by an avalanche of hearsay. But now, through new interviews and comprehensive research into previously unpublished sources, Carol Ann Lee examines the facts without agenda or sensation. A portrait of the era and an evocation of 1950s club life in all its seedy glamour, A Fine Day for a Hanging sets Ruth's gripping story firmly in its historical context in order to tell the truth about both her timeless crime and a punishment that was very much of its time.

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"Worthy of Truman Capote" (Laurence Marks, playwright and screenwriter)

"Wonderful . . . it will become the standard reference on Ruth Ellis" (Stewart P. Evans, crime historian)

"A forensically researched book [that] casts a haunting new light on the last woman to be hanged in Britain" (Daily Mail)

"A brilliantly researched epilogue of the doomed relationships that produced two children and one divorce and Ellis's catastrophic final days . . . All the compelling detail is here in Lee's overwhelming story, which puts Ellis's life into perspective" (Camden New Journal)


Review in Camden new Journal, 15 September 2012: "Lee has told the full story of Ellis's arrest, trial and execution, her troubled childhood and life before she became manageress of the Little Club in Knightsbridge, plus the fascinating background of her forgotten lover... Here you have, for the first time, a brilliantly researched epilogue of the doomed relationships that produced two children and one divorce and Ellis's catastrophic final days... All the compelling detail is here in Lee's overwhelming story, which puts Ellis's life into perspective.."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1136 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Digital (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0094F57KK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,096 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1969, Carol Ann Lee graduated from university in Manchester with a BA (Hons) degree in the History of Art and Design. Her first book was published three years later: 'Roses From The Earth: The Biography of Anne Frank' was the fulfilment of a childhood dream to write about Anne Frank. The Mail on Sunday described the book as "vivid and shattering. A work of real sympathy and imagination" and the Sunday Telegraph: "Excellent... serious, sensitive and scrupulous." 'Roses From The Earth' has been published in 15 countries to date.

This was followed by a biography of Anne's father, 'The Hidden Life of Otto Frank', a Guardian Book of the Week which was described by Reader's Digest as "a tour-de-force of history and humanity." The book has been the subject of several documentaries, and following her ground-breaking research into the family's betrayal, the Dutch government re-opened the case. Anne Frank's cousin, Buddy Elias, states: "Of the many authors, writers and historians who have written about Anne Frank and her father Otto, Carol Ann Lee is the most knowledgeable and sets new scholarly standards... There is nobody who has done more acute and focused research on the subject..." Carol also co-wrote 'A Friend Called Anne' with Anne's best friend Jacqueline van Maarsen and has written extensively on the Holocaust for children.

After living in Amsterdam for several years, in 2005 Carol returned to the UK, settling in York with her son. She turned to fiction writing: 'Come Back to Me', which was published in Holland, and 'The Winter of the World', a novel of the Great War which opens with the funeral of the Unknown Warrior and then takes us back to the trenches. 'The Winter of the World' was published in three languages and was a critical and commercial success in France especially, where it was nominated for two major awards.

In 2010, Carol returned to writing non-fiction with 'One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley', the definitive study not only of Hindley, but also of the Moors Murders case. Carol interviewed a wide cross-section of those involved, from the victims' families to the policemen who worked on the case originally, as well as many of Hindley's supporters. 'One of Your Own' was both a Times and an Independent Book of the Week and was featured on Radio 4. The Mail on Sunday awarded it a five star review, calling it "scrupulously researched and clear-sighted, the most accurate account so far"; The Sunday Times described it as "scrupulously unsensational and as good a biography of Hindley as we're likely to get."

During her research for 'One of Your Own', Carol met David Smith, which led to collaboration on the book 'Witness', in which David told his full story for the first time. In April 2012 'Witness' was republished as 'Evil Relations', just weeks before David died of cancer. The book was nominated for the CWA Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.

In September 2012, Mainstream published 'A Fine Day for a Hanging.' Screenwriter Laurence Marks said of the opening chapter: "Worthy of Truman Capote... the finest account of awaiting execution that I have ever read." The book was again nominated for the CWA Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.

Carol doesn't have a personal website, blog or Twitter page, but she runs the 'Searching for Keith' website alongside Alan Bennett, brother of the last missing victim of Brady and Hindley. Please visit for further details. You can also contact Carol via the forum.

A message from Carol Ann Lee: "Very many sincere and heartfelt thanks to every reader who has taken the time and trouble to leave such positive reviews of my books on Amazon. I do read them all, and am grateful to every single person who has contributed. I hope you will continue to read my books and leave (hopefully positive!) feedback. If ever an author tells you they don't read their reviews... don't trust them! When reviews are good, they light up your day, and even the less appreciative reviews often contain advice worth listening to, so thank you again to everyone who has left comments here."

You will be able to read Carol's new book in 2015.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balance redressed in this outstanding account 5 April 2014
By Bookie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Carol Ann Lee wrote an outstanding account of Myra Hindley in One of our Own, so I was looking forward to this book. She investigates the life and times of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain in 1955. It's an authoritative and meticulously researched work. At times very moving, it brings the issues, times and those involved to life and I learned a great deal from the story.

The historical context, portrayed exceptionally well, is of particular importance. Post war Britain was still predominated by class. Mrs Ellis was her own worst enemy in many ways. From humble beginnings in Rhyl, she married 'above her station'. Her husband, George Ellis was much older and alcoholic, but a dentist by profession and Ruth gained a taste for good living. She became a night club hostess, a brassy, bottle blonde who enjoyed socialising and mixing with the well to do. And that was her downfall; as manageress of a London club which attracted wealthy motor racing enthusiasts, she fell for David Blakeley. He was a violent and abusive drunk, but from a privileged background. She murdered a man despite being a domestic violence victim herself.

And there's the rub; she was judged and condemned for her social status and appearance as much as the crime she committed. Her defence team was poor and missed numerous opportunity to present relevant evidence which would have influenced the outcome of the trial. In terms of so called justice, this case weighed heavily on the miscarriage scales. Ultimately it was a landmark case which contributed to the removal of the death penalty for murder in Britain.

The opening chapter was one of the most moving I've ever read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliantly researched book! 15 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Once again the author has been meticulous in her research of the subject of Ruth Ellis. I have to say I found it very difficult to be fully sympathetic towards Ruth despite her tragic end, she seemed equally as culpable for the volatile relationship she found herself in with David and she seemed to have very little concern for her son. Obviously I am judging this 60 years later and times and her options were certainly different then. It was fascinating to read about life as it was then awaiting execution and the effect it had on her family and everyone else involved in her case. As a fan of Diana Dors I can only say her role in Yield To The Night really does mirror this case and is worth a watch. Once again well done Carol Ann Lee, keep up the good work x
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Day for a Hanging 23 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I knew very little about the Ruth Ellis case prior to reading this comprehensive and well written book and I found it a totally absorbing read. The first chapter is one of the most powerful pieces of non-fiction writing I have come across for a long time. Ruth Ellis was the last woman to suffer the death penalty in the UK. There was never any doubt about the fact that she shot David Blakely outside the Magdala Public House in Hampstead. What never really came out in the police investigation or at the trial was the full circumstances which led up to the shooting.

Ruth Ellis was ambitious and wanted the best of life for herself. She moved to London and obtained work in clubs as a hostess. She did well and was managing the Little Club in Brompton Road in her early twenties. She was the sort of person who was ideally suited to the job as she always made people feel welcome and could talk to anyone. Ruth was married to George Ellis and had two children - Andre (George was not his father) and Georgina - but the marriage was always troubled and Ellis was an alcoholic and beat Ruth up. They separated and Ruth was living in a flat above the Little Club with Andre when she met David Blakely.

David was the sort of person who would always attract Ruth - he was unreliable, had ambitions of being a racing driver and was above her in the social scale which was something which mattered more in the nineteen fifties than perhaps it does today. David and Ruth's relationship never did run smoothly and they frequently had rows and often split up only to be reunited a few days later. Ruth blamed David's friends Ant and Carole Findlater for many of their problems because they did not like her and, she felt, were always trying to split them up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Read 19 Nov. 2012
By Okeglen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very well written despite the subject matter. The author, if the veracity of the research can be relied upon has done an excellent job putting the whole sad story together keeping to the known facts. It is obvious that Ruth Ellis was badly let down by her defense team especially her solicitor, who really held the key to the sorry saga. I remember the case at the time and always thought it was very straight forward. Simply a premeditated murder ruthlessly carried out. Well it turns out it was not so simple after all and one cannot help but feel sorry for the murderess. Commentators since the time, [1955] have argued that it was a crime of passion. One can understand such a view but many people would not subscribe to it. Comparisons have been made with other cases where the culprit was probably innocent but Ruth Ellis did actually commit murder, unlike such comparisons. {Timothy Evans & Derek Bentley, both of whom were executed.} As is common in most cases of this type the police could have been more thorough investigating the matter [origin of the murder weapon] where they might have come across an accomplice, although Mrs Ellis stood trial alone. It must be said that she certainly did not help herself and it is difficult to help those who will not help themselves. My only comment with the research is that Ruth was supposed to be in 33 Tanza Road looking opposite at 29 Tanza Road. Well 33 Tanza Road is not opposite 29 it is two doors away on the same side of the road. She is also quoted as stating that she was looking for people in number 28 Tanza Road. The author footnotes this as an error it should be number 29. Simple corrections which can change a story. Are there others? A good buy nonetheless.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good read. It revealed lots of new facts ana theories
Published 2 months ago by QM1
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read, couldnt put it down
having watched the dvd dance with a styranger i wanted to find out more about Ruth Eliis.What a great read,couldnt put it down,as could my wife who read it also. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Brian Towse
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine day for a hanging by Carol Ann Lee
The real Ruth Ellis story. Was a very gripping book I was hooked on reading it until I had finished reading it, the story I had heard about Ruth Ellis and I had drunk in the very... Read more
Published 6 months ago by L. P. Starling
5.0 out of 5 stars This book really highlights how abuse across a lifespan can ...
This book really highlights how abuse across a lifespan can have devasting consequences. Ruth Ellis should never of hanged
Published 7 months ago by ml
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good rad
A really good read made me think was she acting alone ?
Published 7 months ago by susan mallinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Very interesting
Published 8 months ago by Patricia Bates
3.0 out of 5 stars British Justice 50s style
a good account of a famous case what I don't get is everybody connects the case with the terrible injustices of 1950s Britain namely Derrek Bentley and tim evans . Read more
Published 9 months ago by 210 to wembley
5.0 out of 5 stars Towser T
This must be the definitive narrative of the "Ruth Ellis Story". It is painstaking in its detail and well written. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Stephen Timms
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book
Published 12 months ago by Clare Houston
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written
I can remember the Ruth Ellis story it was one to remember would recommend this book
For anyone interested in true life events it is an excellent read.
Published 15 months ago by Flowers
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