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Ruth Ellis in the condemned cell : voyeurism and resistance.

Seal, L. (2012) 'Ruth Ellis in the condemned cell : voyeurism and resistance.', Prison Service journal., 199 . pp. 17-19.


When Ruth Ellis became the last woman to be executed in England and Wales in July 1955, execution had long been something which took place in private. It is a well established argument that the ending of public execution in 1868 made the practice mundane and bureaucratic, and ‘wrung out of it any trace of the ceremonial and festive’. However, whilst many twentieth-century executions were carried out with little attention from the press or public, there were also ‘spectacular’ cases which commanded high levels of interest and were intensively reported. These cases demonstrated that the execution audience still existed and craved details about the final, tense days of the condemned, when the Home Secretary’s exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy was the only thing that could save them from the gallows. The hanging of Ruth Ellis was one such case.

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Record Created:22 Aug 2012 09:50
Last Modified:30 Aug 2012 16:21

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