As I predicted, this image of Lizzie Borden as a young girl is all over the internet via individual blogs and various digital news media reporting. You’d think bloggers would at least cite how and where it came from, unlike, for example, the Bibliophile Bulletin which is where I snatched *this* one.
I indicated in a previous blog the image was discovered by noted Fall River author and historian, Leonard Rebello – who’s book Lizzie Borden Past & Present is the “bible” on the case.
The more I look at this image the more I am struck less by the winsome quality to the countenance as I am to the sense of a troubled and unhappy young girl. If it IS Lizzie (and I believe it is) and she is around 8 or 9 instead of 12-13 (another possibility), this would have been a time in her life when her sister Emma, 9 years older, would have been away to school at Wheaton Female Seminary.
If one were to subscribe to the “incest” theory, one could theorize Lizzie’s sad countenance was attributed to being a victim at this time, unprotected by her absent sister. On the other hand, I have never thought of Andrew Borden being a very sexual person – rather one who got turned on by making and accumulating money.
When he was married to Sarah, his first wife who bore Emma and Lizzie and Alice (the baby that died at two years) this would account for three pregnancies (that we KNOW about) all spaced over 5-year intervals during their 17 year marriage. This was not the norm in those days for child-bearing. The “incest theory”, so prevalent in the early 1990’s, speculated that Sarah, known to have severe headaches and a volitile temper may have refused sexual relations with Andrew, thus no children after 1860. Andrew may not have had ongoing sexual relations with Abby, and may have then turned to his youngest daughter for such gratification. It was not uncommon for men in that era to commit such acts which they justified by a sense of entitlement.
So could it be that “Little Lizzie”, as this photo has become known, was looking so sad and troubled because she was the victim of incest by her father? Something to ponder.