Newes from the Dead

Today we have a true story from and about my friends in the past.

Anne Green was accused in the bitterly cold winter of 1650 of killing her baby. After weeks in terrible conditions in the prison she was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead. Her execution was carried out.

She lay in her coffin, aware of the darkness but unable to die. She thought of the frozen earth packed above, around and below her and wondered also whether this was purgatory. Or was it Hell and would endure forever?

Her coffin was not buried. Anne Green was delivered to the anatomists and scholars in Oxford. One of them was a poor scholar (as in stupid, rather than than impoverished, though he was probably both) who later become an architect, Christopher Wren. But that’s by the by, as he was of no real significance in the story. The anatomists set about taking apart the body of Anne Green with their scalpels. Yet she lived. Although some of the scholars and the man who had brought the false charges against her urged the anatomists to press on regardless of the signs of life, the better people amongst the crowd insisted on reviving her.

After many days in a dangerous condition, Anne Green recovered fully. She lived a further 15 years, married and enjoyed life as a celebrity – insofar as the seventeenth century could manage celebrity. Her medical bills and dowry were covered by sales of the account of her ordeal, entitled Newes from the Dead.

The man who had forced through the unjust verdict (her child had been prematurely stillborn, not murdered), her hanging and dissection was her former lord. He was present at the execution and at the planned anatomy lesson. He pressed repeatedly for the dissection to go ahead even once it was clear that she was alive. He died two days later of a mysterious illness.

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4 Responses to “Newes from the Dead”

  1. Hi Abandonata

    I am following your blog daily. It is brilliant but searing. I suffer from chronic depression (with deep troughs) but am currently OK. I have been in the Slough more than once and emerged. I’m concerned about you and if there is any way I can help, let me know on here and I will send you my email address.

    Ros xx

    • Thank you, Ros. I hope you manage to stay out of the troughs for a long time. It’s very encouraging that you have emerged from the Slough yourself, and your kind words give me hope and comfort.

  2. adele geras Says:

    Have you read Mary Hooper’s excellent book called exactly that: NEWES FROM THE DEAD? I thought it was very good!

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