Reading the ‘book of skin’: The life and death of John Horwood, online talk – 15 April

Quick info:

  • Type of event: online
  • Date: 15 April
  • Time: 6 pm to 7 pm
  • Location: Zoom, link available after booking
  • Meeting point: n/a
  • Cost: free, donations welcome
  • Booking instructions: book online. Bookings close at 2 pm on 15 April

‘2021 marks the bicentenary of the execution of John Horwood of Hanham. At only 18 years old, he was the first person to be executed from the gallows on the gates of Bristol New Gaol. Horwood had been convicted of the murder of Eliza Balsum. She was a young woman from the same community, and his former sweetheart. In this talk, Dr Rose Wallis will explore the contents of the ‘book of skin’. The collection of material compiled by Smith is rich and varied. It sheds light on the operation of the law in the 1820s, and contemporary attempts to understand criminality. Within the accounts of the legal proceedings and Smith’s physiognomic investigations, we can find intimate details about life for young people in the early nineteenth-century. It provides us an insight into Horwood the person, beyond the criminal corpse, or indeed the ‘book of skin’.

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