DiscoverLady Killers with Lucy Worsley28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love
28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

Update: 2024-02-281


Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.

In this episode Lucy is joined by Cameron Esposito, stand-up comic, actor, writer and host of the hit podcast Queery. They investigate the case of 19-year-old Alice Mitchell who killed 17-year-old Freda Ward in Memphis, Tennessee in 1892 after a stormy and illicit relationship.

Alice and Freda plan to marry and move to St Louis, but when Freda’s family discover their relationship, she comes under enormous pressure to end it.

Alice Mitchell’s subsequent actions caused a nationwide sensation and influenced the way lesbians were perceived by the press and the public for decades.

Lucy is also joined by the historian Alexis Coe, author of Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis, who helps Lucy uncover exactly what drove Alice to kill the woman she loved.

Lucy wants to know what this case tells us about women’s lives in the southern states of America at the end of the 19th century, particularly the lives of LGBTQ+ women, and what it tells us about queer women’s lives in America now.

Today in Tennessee the LGBTQ+ community feels under increasing threat with legislation banning books in schools which portray gay or trans people and bans on drag acts. Lucy asks the drag artist and activist Magical Miss Mothie to find out more from members of the community during their annual Pride festival in the city.

The story of Alice and Freda is complex and disturbing, and it culminates in the destruction of two young lives. But it reminds us that queer people have always been there and always will be; in the teeth of opposition from everyone around her Alice refused to see why she should not live her life with the woman she loved.

Produced in partnership with the Open University

Producer: Jane Greenwood
Readers: Clare Corbett, Bill Hope and Laurel Lefkow
Sound design: Chris Maclean
Series Producer: Julia Hayball
Executive Producer: Kirsty Hunter

A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4

New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes:









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28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

28. Alice Mitchell - Forbidden Love

BBC Radio 4