A Closer Look: Famous Trials (The Folio Society)


Originally Edited by Harry Hodge and James H. Hodge

Introduced by Geoffrey Robertson QC

• Bound in textured paper printed with a design by Jamie Keenan • Set in Janson • 400 pages • 50 integrated black & white illustrations • Printed endpapers • Blocked slipcase • 9″ × 5¾”

In 1905, Edinburgh based criminology expert, legal publisher and expert shorthand writer, Harry Hodge, published the first volume in his long-running The Notable British Trials series, a hugely successful collection of books on famous criminal trials and cause celebres that eventually comprised a total of eighty-three volumes, all written by a carefully selected pool of lawyers, criminologists and journalists with an insistence on absolute accuracy and the appeal of the human interest drama at the core.

Following Hodge’s death in 1947, both the Notable British Trials series, and the Penguin Famous Trials series (abridged versions of the original publications), were edited by his son James Hozier Hodge, yet over a century since the originals first appeared, the accounts, in their meticulous quality, insight and indisputable significance, remain unmatched. Unsurprisingly the series is still regarded by many as one of the greatest British publishing ventures of the Twentieth Century.

This new Folio exclusive brings together eight of those notorious cases from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; a period often referred to as the Golden Age of the British murder trial.

From The Folio Society edition of Famous Trials

What is particularly impressive about the individual accounts is the way each is laid out and presented to the reader, just as it would have been for judge and jury at the respective trials.

With invaluable assistance from the Director of Public Prosecutions, and consultation from official records, the accounts are hugely impressive in their depth and detail, carefully guiding the reader through the establishing background information and the proceeding police investigations, before fully immersing them inside the fearsome, dimly courtroom itself and introducing them to such notorious figures as George Joseph Smith, Florence Maybrick and Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen.

From The Folio Society edition of Famous Trials

Despite the exhaustive detail and frequent use of technical terminology, each trial surprisingly proves very readable, playing out more like a twisting thriller than the non-fiction text-book style that might be expected.

The accounts are widely lauded for their continued importance to historians and legal professionals, but one of their most significant aspects is that they serve as compelling time capsules for contemporary legal processes, taking the reader back to a time when forensic science was at its infancy, a time when the Court of Appeal was only just being introduced and a time when defendants were only just permitted to give evidence at their own trials.

From The Folio Society edition of Famous Trials

Though many of the details are of course highly gruesome, it proves an utterly fascinating and page-turning read. Surely this is as close as it gets to serving jury duty on a high profile murder trial without ever having to leave your sofa?

The Folio Society edition of Famous Trials introduced by Geoffrey Robertson QC is available exclusively from www.FolioSociety.com.

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