Issues of gender and class in the Mirror newspapers’ campaign for the release of Edith Chubb

Seal, Lizzie (2009) Issues of gender and class in the Mirror newspapers’ campaign for the release of Edith Chubb. Crime, Media, Culture, 5 (1). pp. 57-78. ISSN 1741-6604

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In May 1958, Edith Chubb was tried at the Old Bailey for the murder of her sister-in-law, Lilian Chubb. She was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. She claimed to have accidentally killed Lilian by pulling on her scarf in a moment of `exasperation'. Edith was a married woman and mother of five children, whereas Lilian had never married. This article examines how the case was represented in the Daily and Sunday Mirror. In particular, it analyses these newspapers' persistent calls for Edith's release from prison. She was portrayed as an overworked, overburdened mother, who understandably snapped and killed her `lazy' sister-in-law. She was constructed as a respectable working-class woman who was undeserving of punishment. However, this construction relied upon portraying Lilian through negative stereotypes of the `spinster', as a `failed' woman of low social value. With reference to Innes's (2004a, 2004b) concept of the `signal crime', it is argued that Edith's case can be `read' by criminologists for mid 20th-century perceptions of gender, class, victimhood and the appropriateness of punishment.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: 1950s; gender; murder; respectability
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Depositing User: Lizzie Seal
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2012 15:00
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2012 15:00
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