William “Norman” Ritchie, Newspaper Cartoonist, Recalls the Lizzie Borden Trial

10 Mar

I have always loved collecting old newspapers on classic unsolved crimes – be they from London, Philadelphia or Fall River.  There’s just something about them when considering the turnaround time of their creation:  the scramble of reporters getting their interviews, stories, quotes, typing them up, scrambling to meet the deadline over the wires by dictating to over the phone to give it birth.  Ahhh, newspapers.  If tenderly handled and preserved like books,  they endure.

However, in today’s high tech age and all things digital, one winces at the eBooks and eReaders and Kindle and all their sister clones in comparison.   No wicker rocker with a 4 pound, 200 page New York Times.  A superfast processor with lots of ram.  So many bookmarks and so little time.  But fifty years from now where will the warm, fuzzy nostalgia be in running your index finger across an iPad screen?

Blessed by thy Internet, for you shall inherit the earth.“*

(Ahhh, progress.  Sigh)

Anyway, from my newspaper files on the Borden case, I stumbled across a “1916 retrospective” and thought it worthwhile to post.  So here it is:

William Norman Ritchie (1867-1948) was a cartoonist for the Boston Post during the time of the Lizzie Borden trial.  He always signed his sketches “Norman” so they are easily identified when researching newspaper coverage of the case.

In 1916, 22 years after Lizzie’s acquittal, “Norman” recalled some of the events in the article below.  There are lots of little gems in here for your discovery.  Some, I’m sure, you’ve never heard before.  (click the articles for larger view.)

Included on this page, we learn about attorney William Moody (who had become Secretary of the Navy as well as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice)  being visited by Ritchie.  Moody at the time was confined to a hammock and was suffering from paralysis.

Not one to be deterred when circumstances challenged him to sketch his subjects, Mr. Ritchie was both clever and devious.  Here we read about his securing a sketch of John V. Morse who avoided reporters.

Another really interesting (but separate) article is this one below which  appeared after Lizzie’s death.  We have all read before about Lizzie’s statement, “she is not my mother…she is my stepmother”.  Well, according to this article she stomped her feet when she said it!   Can’t you just picture that?  Then again, many years had passed since the telling of this version.

Sketches by “Norman” are occasionally found at auction where they command a goodly price.

*I just made that quote up; rather like it too, I must say.  🙂

1 Comment

Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Collectibles, Newspaper Coverage


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One response to “William “Norman” Ritchie, Newspaper Cartoonist, Recalls the Lizzie Borden Trial

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