A selection of reviews of Naomi Clifford’s books.
“Clifford documents what is know of the circumstances of each of the 131 women hanged in the period. Behind these bitter tales is a deep-grained horror of women, understood as tender and amiable in their very bodily fibre, who “pervert the dictates of nature” to commit crime…”
Min Wild, Times Literary Supplement
“If I could get every single one of you to read this I would because I think it’s magnificent.”
“It’s a book that every public library, every university library and every secondary school library should own. There’s so much of interest not just about crime and punishment and the place of women in Regency England, but also the relations between servants and their masters and the ways people survived at the very margins of society. The law was pretty arbitrary, while the Bank of England emerges as very much the same institution as it is today, certain that its own interests are more important than the lives of mere humans.”
“Gripping and readable account of early 19th-century crime and punishment…. It is a horrifying, illuminating and compelling account that grabs the attention from the first page Jane Austen’s Regency World I read it in a single sitting and shines a welcome light into a dark era of British legal history.”
“…What Naomi Clifford does particularly well is her placing of Mary Ashford’s murder into its context, but she also shows how its brutality ‘became a marker against which the murders of women were compared’.”
Nell Darby, Criminal Historian
“…re-examines this intriguing case in a fresh and comprehensive manner, delving deep into detail, exploring both the events leading up to the murder and those that preceded it… This is another great offering from the hand that gave us Women and the Gallows.”
“This fresh look at a two-centuries-old crime brings new knowledge and painstaking original research to bear on a once-famous case. Naomi Clifford forensically sets out the death of Mary Ashford and its incredible aftermath, giving modern readers a unique perspective on what might or might not have happened, and presenting her own convincing conclusions.”
“Thorough research & convincing arguments – 200 years after a sensational UK murder, the author succeeds in her mission to correct ‘a missed opportunity for justice’.”
Dean Jobb, Ellery Queen magazine
“In a detailed feat of detective work, Clifford pieces together the strange story of Maria Glenn, for whom being the reputed heiress to a large slave-produced fortune proved to bring her only misfortune. Described by the Taunton Courier as ‘like a deposit in our savings Bank, to be reserved until a few more years have improved the amount of her fortune, and the value of her affections,’ she was seen merely as a prize to be won, or in her case, stolen. Abducted by a family she had thought she could trust, her reputation was ruined by the episode and its repercussions, to the point that she resorted to leaving the country.
“Clifford tells her tale with sympathy and insight, carefully picking out the chain of events from the conflicting contemporary reports. The Disappearance of Maria Glenn is a fascinating read, dispelling our romantic notions of Regency ‘elopements’ by throwing light on a case where the ‘suitor’ was clearly motivated more by avarice than love.”
“Naomi Clifford brings this story of abduction and the aftermath in Regency Somerset brilliantly to life. Her style is as readable as her research is thorough. It is a fascinating look at the life of ordinary people transformed by a single event with devastating consequences. Read it!”
“Naomi Clifford manages to do the nearly impossible. She’s combined a true-life mystery and a discursive history. She creates a page turner which is wildly informative, shedding fresh light and insights into dark unexplored histories, making strange what we’d assumed was familiar. The disappearance of Maria Glenn takes us on a picaresque journey into a world of elopement and abduction.”