Twenty years in the making, this promises to be the next best thing to the Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie Andrew Borden and Her Fall River.
Cara Warschaw Robertson
You can pre-order (as I did weeks ago) on Amazon. Cara has been a great and long-time contributor to the FRHS’s Borden collection. Her background is absolutely stellar. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1997 – but here’s a brief recap:
“Ms. Robertson earned her B.A. from Harvard College (summa cum laude), her Ph.D. from Oxford University and her J.D. from Stanford Law School (with distinction). After law school, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable John Paul Stevens and the Honorable Byron White of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ms. Robertson has been an associate legal officer for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a visiting scholar at Stanford Law School and a fellow at the National Humanities Center.”
I knew of Ms. Robertson because in my own research on the case I had come across her work published in the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities (Summer 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2) entitled: “Representing Miss Lizzie: Cultural Convictions in the Trial of Lizzie Borden”.
However, I actually met her during one of my twice annual visits to Fall River through an introduction by Curator Michael Martins. It was in 2001, in the basement of the FRHS where she was engaged in deep research for this book. A few days later we chatted outdoors on the FRHS property (inside the gazebo) about all things Lizzie. She struck me as a lovely person and a most serious scholar. She also struck me as off-the-charts smart. Thus, I have been awaiting this book ever since.
Here’s the promo text from the Amazon site – enough to get all Borden case enthusiasts salivating:
“The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?
The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.”
Oh, goody, goody, goody. New stuff. New author. BUT NOT A NEW RESEARCHER. And there’s the difference my friends. This woman knows her stuff inside and out. I’m certain one will be hard pressed in the reading of her book to find misquotes or misinformation.
And don’t forget: She’s smart – really, really smart. And, oh, so nice.
Buy the book.