Overlook Press

Skip to Main Content »

Search Site

You're currently on:


More Views

The Poisoner

Stephen Bates

Available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Be the first to review this product


ISBN 13: 978-1-4683-1014-6
Trim Size: 5 3/8 x 8

Product Description

In 1856, a baying crowd of over 30,000 people gathered outside Stafford prison to watch the hanging of Dr. William Palmer, “the greatest villain that ever stood in the Old Bailey,” as Charles Dickens once called him. Palmer was convicted of poisoning his best friend and suspected of murdering dozens of others, including his wife, his mother-in-law, and four of his own children, and cashing in on their insurance to finance his gambling addiction. Highlighting his gruesome penchant for strychnine, a toxin that causes violent muscle spasms and frothing at the mouth, the trial made news across both the Old World and the New. Palmer was a different sort of murderer than the public had come to fear—respectable, middle class, personable, and consequently more terrifying. But as the gallows door dropped, one question still gnawed at many who knew the case: Was Palmer truly guilty?

The first major retelling of William Palmer’s story in over sixty years, The Poisoner takes a fresh look at the infamous doctor’s life and disputed crimes, asking final: Was Palmer truly guilty?

Praise for The Poisoner:

"Sprightly look at the parochial mid-19th-century England that produced an infamous serial poisoner." —Kirkus Reviews

"The Poisoner is meticulously researched, cleverly written, and, even better, a wonderfully entertaining read." —Judith Flanders, author of The Invention of Murder: How Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

“A remarkable achievement . . . Vivid, eloquent, and vital.” —Observer

“I could not wait for this book to come out, and it doesn’t disappoint.” —The Times

“An essential read.” —Guardian

"A fascinating retelling. Stephen Bates returns to a crime that shocked the VIctorian nation and created the blackest of myths." —Peter Moore, author of Damn His Blood

"One of the most insightful accounts of murder I have ever read." —Rupert Matthews, author of Jack the Ripper's Streets of Terror

Stephen Bates has written for the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and, for the last twenty years, the Guardian. He is the author of Penny Loaves and Butter Cheap: Britain in 1846.

Product Tags

Add Your Tags:
Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.
Download our catalogs
Winter 2019
Fall 2018
Summer 2018
Winter 2018
PG Wodehouse