6. Amelia Dyer

6. Amelia Dyer

Update: 2022-07-253


Lucy Worsley investigates the ordinary lives and extraordinary crimes of Victorian women accompanied by a team of female detectives.

This time, Lucy is on the case of a baby farmer who’s thought to have killed between 200 and 400 children, by strangling them and throwing the bodies in the River Thames.

Baby farming was almost an acceptable practice in the 19th century, seen as a necessary solution to deal with the 50,000 babies that were born illegitimately each year. The shame and economic burden of caring for a child forced many unmarried mothers to enlist the services, for a fee, of a baby farmer, who promised a safe and loving home for infants. Tragically, some of them were unscrupulous, taking the money and getting rid of the children.

Lucy is joined by former detective Jackie Malton, who was the inspiration for the TV series Prime Suspect, and in-house historian Rosalind Crone as they follow in the footsteps of the Victorian detectives who painstakingly tracked our baby killer.

The case began with the discovery of a body in the river and Jackie and Ros revisit the scene of the crime. They also examine original evidence at the Thames Valley Police Museum, in Reading.

Lucy asks what kind of society turned a blind eye to these baby farmers. And crucially, did women really have a choice, when their childcare options were so limited?
This was a high profile case but did anything change as a result? And what happened to our baby killer?

Producer: Julia Hayball
Readers: Clare Corbett and Jonathan Keeble
Sound design: Chris Maclean
A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4
Comments (1)

David Wilkins

You couldn't imagine my excitement this morning when I saw episodes of this podcast lined up and ready for me to finally hear! I've been waiting ages for your pod to be available in Canada. I'm a tour guide at Kingston Penitentiary where Gace Marx did her time. Thanks for your great work.

Jul 27th
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6. Amelia Dyer

6. Amelia Dyer

BBC Radio 4