Lizzie Borden in the Wall Street Journal

15 Aug

Jennifer Levitz wrote this piece on the “two camps” as to Lizzie’s guilt or innocence.

She interviewed me during the intermission and after the play Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, written by Garrett Heater on Saturday evening, August 6th, 2011, at the BMC Durfee H.S. in Fall River.  I had thought her piece was going to be about the play.  I’m not the only one disappointed she didn’t see fit to give it the credit due.

Ms. Levitz was apparently doing a more composite article regarding Lizzie.  What I find the MOST interesting is the very last part:  Her quote from author Len Rebello who wrote the current “go to” book, Lizzie Borden Past & Present.. (Note: this book is now discounted to $150 so if you are looking for a copy, contact me).  Mr. Rebello seems to imply that the Fall River Historical Society is writing  book that puts forth sufficient new information to deliberately change opinion as to her guilt of the crimes of August 4, 1892.  The further implication is that it’s a put up job by those power brokers in Fall River who would like to have the town’s notoriety of its most infamous citizen changed, softened or erased.  Mr. Rebello states that as a Fall River native he has lived with the Lizzie Borden association to his home town all his life and the residents just come to accept it.  Actually some do and some still hate the fact she IS associated with their home town  But I strongly disagree to his implication of the FRHS’s  motive in writing the kind of book they have.

There has long been the different Did She or Didn’t She camps.  There has long been the various theories ranging from Lizzie did it, Lizzie and Bridget (the maid), Lizzie didn’t do it but knew who did, the unseen intruder, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Well, the book, Parallel Lives, A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River” isn’t about the crimes.  It isn’t about revealing new information as to her guilt or innocense.  It IS about precisely what the title states But with new photos, letters written about and by Lizzie, private journals and remembrances, a different Lizzie emerges from the woman Borden case enthusiasts and experts have studied for over a century.  We WILL look at her differently.  We WILL think of her differently.

But how will this actually impact the general public’s perception of Lizzie?  How will this book alter Lizzie’s iconic image of a one-dimensional maniacal, axe swinging psychopath?   It won’t.  It won’t because at 696 pages and 7 pounds and the fact this true crime is known the world over, its still a niche market.   It’s not Harry Potter.  To us Borden case scholars it will be the NEW “go to” book.  It will be a treasured book in our collection of collectibles.  But alas and alack, all that Lizzie Borden Googling will still show the images so embedded in the minds of those that seek her out.

In any event, the above article is worth reading.   The “usual suspects” are quoted aside from myself:

Stefani “look at me, look at me” Koorey;

Shelley Dziedzic – who just self published a nifty booklet on Oak Grove (more to follow);

The gratuitous B&B employee, this time Ben Rose, an accomplished actor as well.

Len Rebello, author of above said excellent book.


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