Hands up who’s familiar with this haunting nursery rhyme? But did you know it’s based on one of the most famous trials of the 19th century? This year, almost 125 years after Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted in 1892 for the violent axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts, 3 print, film and stage projects put her story back in the spotlight.
This year, Lizzie Borden may finally step away from her nursery rhyme shadow and take her place as a modern crime icon.
The case remains one of America’s great unsolved crimes; many still suspect 32 year old youngest child Lizzie to be a barbaric murderess, whilst others consider household members Bridget and Lizzie’s absent sister, Emma prime suspects.
Our cultural thirst for anything historical, combined with the current trend for TV true crime like Making a Murderer and the recent bestselling success of Emma Cline’s The Girls – a fictionalised account of the Charles Manson murders (see my review from last year here) means this year, Lizzie Borden may finally step away from her nursery rhyme shadow and take her place as a modern crime icon.
3 big Lizzie Borden releases out this year
This tense, tightly coiled fictional account of the Lizzie Borden story released on 2nd May is startlingly unsettling, seeping under your skin and making you feel like you’ve become a part of this miserable, murderous house. The story begins in the immediate aftermath of the murders and is told by Lizzie, Emma, Bridget and a stranger called Benjamin who all have a motive, thus are the archetypal narrators we can never trust. The non-chronological storyline brings a further twist, but it’s the sensory overload of Schmidt’s narrative that creeps into your bloodstream like poison. Each rancid description – the violence, the sickness in the house, the corpses, the heat, the food – are an assault on the senses. A gripping read that’ll reel you in so much that you almost forget that the author’s chosen ending is merely conjecture.
2. the film: Lizzie
Starring Chloe Sevigny as Lizzie and Kirsten Stewart as Bridget, the maid (pictured above) the big-screen re-telling of the Lizzie Borden case will be released this year and reportedly uses their rumoured romantic relationship as a controversial angle to explore the crimes.
3. the stage show: Lizzie: The Musical
Opening in London at the Greenwich theatre in February this year and playing in major US cities, the all-female rock musical presumes Lizzie’s guilt and is described as being: ‘American mythology set to a blistering rock score.’ Broadway next?