Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one
Or did she?
In The Trial of Lizzie Borden (Simon & Schuster, $28), the definitive account of one of America’s most notorious murder mysteries, Cara Robertson, a lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk, takes a deep dive into this country’s first “trial of the century.”
You’re likely familiar with the story of Borden—the Massachusetts spinster accused of brutally murdering her father and stepmother in 1892. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre from novels and films to ballet to podcasts and stage musicals, the Borden murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror.
Based on 20 years of research and primary source material, including transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, Robertson explores the stories Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear, and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom.
The Trial of Lizzie Borden breaks open one of the most sensational murder trials in American history, showcasing how the Borden murders offer a window onto America’s Gilded Age, and its most troubling social anxieties and deeply held convictions.