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on 8 March 2017
Very good
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on 23 September 2017
Really good historical account & easy to read
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on 9 October 2007
I bought this book after reading a big feature about it in the Daily Mail and I was hooked from the first page. The story is compulsive and chilling, the writing is vivid and evocative, and it has clearly been meticulously researched. I am amazed that no one has written a biography of Dyer before, because it seems she was the biggest serial killer that Britain has ever known - she murdered hundreds of babies during her career as a "Baby Farmer".

It highlights the scale of infanticide in ninteenth-century Britain and opens up an area of this country's social history that has been ignored. If you're interested in true crime and/or popular history then you must read this book because Dyer was more prolific than any other killer in British history - she was a contemporary of Jack the Ripper and her crimes are much worse, but she has been largely forgotten until now.

One of this book's great strengths is the skill with which it thrusts the reader into Dyer's world, the sounds, the smells, the physical descriptions, and there is lots of human interest: Dyer and those with whom she comes into contact are brought vividly to life.

I read a lot of true crime/popular history and it is rare for me to award five stars, but in this case I feel it is well deserved: it is the most entertaining and thought-provoking account I have seen in a long time.
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I first became aware of the crimes of Amelia Dyer when I watched the ITV series 'Ladykillers' which was presented by Martina Cole. I was appalled but strangely fascinated by the story and was delighted when I found a copy of this book on the Library for-sale table.
Amelia Dyer was tried and hanged in 1896, she was found guilty of just one murder but it is thought she may have been responsible for up to 400 deaths. Dyer trained as a nurse, and it was her nursing skills that were to come in so handy in her next 'career' - that of a 'baby farmer' - a woman who took in unwanted infants, for money.
In Victorian Britain, unmarried mothers were stigmatised and unable to get any financial help, the recently passed Poor Law had taken away the financial obligations of fathers, so many of these women were desperate. So, women like Dyer stepped in and became baby farmers - for a fee they would take the babies, often with the promise that they would care for them as their own. Dyer, however, just saw these poor children as a way to make money and most of the infants were left to strarve to death, some of them were throttled within hours of coming into her home.
This book is an excellently written account of Dyer's life, her career and the subsequent police investigation and court case. Although non-fiction, it is never tedious or stuffy and is written almost as though it were a novel.
This really is a fascinating, compelling and incredibly sad story. How many times do we hark back to the 'good old days', insisting that child cruelty and neglect, drug and alcohol addiction etc are all on rise? Reading this account of Victorian England makes one realise that things back then were so much worse. How many unmarried mothers these days have to pass over their newborn baby to an unknown person?
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
After reading The Ghost of Lily Painter, a novel that draws upon the arrest and trial of Amelia Sach who was a baby farmer based in Finchley, I wanted to know more about how widespread this practice was.

This book relays the life story of Amelia Dyer, born Amelia Hobley in 1838, the youngest of 5 children born to a relatively comfortable family for the times. The events surrounding the deaths of the children are truly horrifying. These children were entrusted to her care, often for [] pounds to take full responsibility for the rest of their lives thereby relieving their families of any further involvement. The authors describe how many of these were drugged and starved to death. Amelia appears to have started this career by acting as a midwife who for a fee ensured that babies were stillborn before moving on to placing adverts in papers offering to take care of children for a premium. Amelia plyed her trade, intersperced with time in prison and mental asylums for many years before finally being investigated fully in 1896.

This book also goes some way to explain why single women were persuaded that answering the adverts was the answer to their problems, orphanages would often stipulate that their charges be true orphans and a single woman with a child could not easily find employment and ensure their child was cared for. The lack of money was not helped by an act passed in 1830 which meant a single woman could not claim money for the child's upkeep from the father.

A sad but informative book about a period of history where real poverty enabled such a foul trade to flourish.
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on 12 February 2009
This is a very well researched and written case history which can be read like a novel. This has to be the best Amelia Dyer read I have had. She was not a pleasant lady...
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on 30 August 2009
I've wanted this book for years. I too read the Daily Mail's feature and have been hooked on this woman ever since. I love learning about the sinister and harrowing streets of our Victorian England and this era holds some pretty horrific tales. If you love history and period murders like Jack The Ripper or the brutal child murder of Fanny Adams then I am sure you will find this book fascinating. I was hooked within the first few pages and read it cover to cover in 2 sittings. The sad fact of the matter is Amelia Dyer and the whole subject of baby farming wasn't an isolated case she was just the one who got caught. The manner in which it was carried out and how unattatched people were back then is chilling. It describes how in London at this time people would 'regularly step over dead children left in the gutter'. This was England part of The Empire how could such things happen?
You can't help but feel for all these souls and all the mothers who lost their children yet you can't stop reading and finding out who will be her next victim.

A fantastic and educational read exploring the boundries of our social and custodial system.
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on 28 April 2009
This was, as one would expect, a bleak book to read - God knows the picture on the front is enough to stop a bull at 50 paces! I didn't realise, however, how much I would be affected. I'm not really a maternal lady! but I don't think that's necessary to be totally shocked and saddened by the horrific story of what happened to children at this time in our so called 'civilised' country.
It is written with sensitivity and no real sense that the story should be sensationalised - let's face it, it's sensational enough. I would say if you are easily affected, and particularly so by horrors done to children, then this may not be the book for you.
The story is compelling and moving. A must read to inform us of just what went on in our own country at this bleak time in our history.
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on 21 December 2013
This is a very well written and researched book that chronicles the life and murderous activities of Amelia Dyer who is perhaps not as well remembered as the equally abominable Mary Ann Cotton (born Mary Ann Robson; 31 October 1832 - 24 March 1873) yet her crimes when discovered shocked and horrified late Victorian London who judging by the archive newspaper reports had a morbid fascination with her activities and for a while at least Dyer enjoyed the attention of her own notoriety
Amelia Dyers life is a grim story of survival in a era of grinding poverty and her descent into baby farming, murder and her execution is both grueling and fascinating reading .

Dyer comes over as a extremely evil callous woman who could act convincingly as a loving 'grandmother ' with such conviction that mothers instantly trusted her with their children's welfare and yet Dyer could write letters reassuring the children where safe and looked after when she had already slowly garroted them with lace and disposed of the bodies

Dyer was a prolific killer who may have slain hundreds of infants in a reign of terror over thirty years Yet she was human well read and educated and as the authors state a very complex individual who kept many dark secrets till the end

A fine biography and difficult to put down so five stars
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I first became aware of the crimes of Amelia Dyer when I watched the ITV series 'Ladykillers' which was presented by Martina Cole. I was appalled but strangely fascinated by the story and was delighted when I found a copy of this book on the Library for-sale table.
Amelia Dyer was tried and hanged in 1896, she was found guilty of just one murder but it is thought she may have been responsible for up to 400 deaths. Dyer trained as a nurse, and it was her nursing skills that were to come in so handy in her next 'career' - that of a 'baby farmer' - a woman who took in unwanted infants, for money.
In Victorian Britain, unmarried mothers were stigmatised and unable to get any financial help, the recently passed Poor Law had taken away the financial obligations of fathers, so many of these women were desperate. So, women like Dyer stepped in and became baby farmers - for a fee they would take the babies, often with the promise that they would care for them as their own. Dyer, however, just saw these poor children as a way to make money and most of the infants were left to strarve to death, some of them were throttled within hours of coming into her home.
This book is an excellently written account of Dyer's life, her career and the subsequent police investigation and court case. Although non-fiction, it is never tedious or stuffy and is written almost as though it were a novel.
This really is a fascinating, compelling and incredibly sad story. How many times do we hark back to the 'good old days', insisting that child cruelty and neglect, drug and alcohol addiction etc are all on rise? Reading this account of Victorian England makes one realise that things back then were so much worse. How many unmarried mothers these days have to pass over their newborn baby to an unknown person?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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