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Broadside entitled 'Murders!'


This murder report begins: 'An Account of these two Murders, the one committed, on Tuesday evening last, the 5th September, 1826, on the Body of Mrs ALEXANDER, residing at the foot of Leith Wynd, Edinburgh, by her own Husband; and the other, last night, Monday the 11th September, 1826, on the Body of a young man of the name of BAIN, a Hatter, in the West Port, who was killed on the spot.' This broadside is dated the 12th September, 1826.

The very fact this sheet was printed the morning after the murder of the 11th of September, illustrates how quickly broadsides followed the events they were reporting. In this instance, both stories have been sourced from the 'Edinburgh Observer'. With no copyright law to restrict such practices, broadside producers often lifted the most newsworthy and sensational stories from that day's newspaper and reproduced them as broadsides. Within a matter of hours they hit the streets usually priced at one penny. More affordable than the heavily-taxed newspapers of the day, they reached a vast audience.

Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.

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Date of publication: 1826   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(73)
Broadside entitled 'Murders!'
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