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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 But now, through new interviews and comprehensive research into previously unpublished sources, Carol Ann Lee examines the facts without agenda or sensation.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.
In the half-light of early morning on October 7, 1965, 17-year-old David Smith called Hyde police from a telephone box on Hattersley overspill estate in Manchester. The story that he had to tell—of the brutal murder he had witnessed the previous evening—set in motion the detection of Britain’s most infamous serial killings: the Moors Murders. Despite standing as chief prosecution witness at the subsequent trial, David Smith was vilified and hated by a public who knew nothing of the facts behind the accusations thrown at Smith by the killers themselves in an attempt to gain lesser sentences. Myra Hindley’s own confession, 20 years later, that she and Ian Brady had lied about Smith’s involvement in their crimes, did little to diminish the slurs against his name.
For almost 45 years, David Smith has been asked by writers and filmmakers to tell his story. With the exception of no…[more]