The Doctor’s Wife is Dead brings us a mysterious death in respectable society: a brilliant historical true crime story In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor.
So why was she buried in a pauper’s coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder?
Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley’s death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man’s confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens to hold him to account.
Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life.
The Doctor’s Wife is Dead is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama.