The Black Widows of Liverpool

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A chilling account of cold-blooded murder in the Victorian city

An astonishing book which tells the story of the murderous activities of an infamous killing syndicate operating in the heart of the Victorian city, and how the two sisters at the centre of this criminal web were eventually caught.


The Black Widows of Liverpool tells the story of the murderous activities of an infamous killing syndicate in Victorian Liverpool.

This money-making enterprise involved a complicated ‘web’ of ordinary women from a poor area of Liverpool who conspired to insure and then poison their victims for the insurance pay out. Two sisters, Catherine Flanagan and Margaret Higgins, sat at the centre of this web, preying like Black Widow spiders on their victims, including their own husbands.

Find out how the women obtained the arsenic which caused so many to die in excruciating agony; how members of their own community aided and abetted them; and about the remarkable way in which the sisters were eventually caught.

Angela Brabin has unearthed fascinating new evidence, as well as discovering more probable victims and accomplices, to produce a gripping account of crime and punishment, and a real insight into working-class life in nineteenth-century Liverpool.

  • Author: Angela Brabin
  • Binding: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-874181-60-6
  • Pages: 160
  • Illustrations: includes photographs, documents, illustrations
  • Date of Publication: 25 March 2009
  • Dimensions: 234 × 156mm

1 review for The Black Widows of Liverpool

  1. Women’s History magazine

    A truly interesting account of women’s … criminal activities in the Victorian period. Serious and thoroughly researched.

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