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13:15 - 13:55 23 February 2010

LUNCH HOUR LECTURE: Venomous Women: poison murderesses in nineteenth-century Germany


Darwin Lecture Theatre - accessed via Malet Place | Darwin Building (link Map)
access via Malet Place | London | WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free and open to anyone on a first-come first-served basis. Lectures can also be watched online or downloaded from UCL's iTunesU from 7 days after the event.
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Professor Susanne Kord, UCL German

Women and poison have long been thought of as elective affinities: poison is presumed to be a ‘woman’s weapon’, and poison murder as quintessentially ‘female’. An example documenting these assumptions is the case of Germany’s most famous serial killer, Gesche Margarethe Gottfried (1785-1831), convicted of murdering fifteen people, including her entire family.

This lecture offers an analysis of her interrogation records, her psychological profile (one of the earliest in Germany) and contemporary fiction about the case. The focus will be on Gottfried’s motives, which she refused to reveal and which have remained mysterious to this day. Can these motives be seen not only as those of a female killer, but as more generally ‘female’?


Dan Martin
+44 (0)20 7679 7675 | dan.martin@ucl.ac.uk