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Broadside entitled 'Horrid Murder'


This crime report begins: 'A Full, True and Particular Account of that most Horrid and Barbarous Murder, committed by JAMES FRASER, a chimney-sweeper, in Blackfriars' Wynd, this day, on the body of his own Wife, by striking her on the back of the head with a leaden bullet.' A 'bullet' in this context refers to a piece of apparatus used by a chimney sweep, rather than to a round of ammunition. The broadside was published by Sanderson of Edinburgh.

The most successful broadside producers were often those who were quickest to publish details of a crime. This broadside is a good example of a 'breaking story'. The text makes clear it has been printed on the same day as the murder took place, and qualifying statements such as 'it is believed' and 'it is understood' emphasise the word-of-mouth nature of the news, as well as protecting the publisher's legal position. The remaining space at the bottom of the page is taken up with two unrelated stories, a common feature of broadsides where the main story was too short for a single page.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date of publication: 1835   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(118)
Broadside entitled 'Horrid Murder'
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