Mary Pearcey

Woman at the Devil's Door

A tale of love, betrayal, and murder

  • Banner_pram

    The original pram in which the murderess carried her gory load.

  • Banner_atcourt

    The murderess and her tireless solicitor at the police court.

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    The Illustrated Police News, December 1890

On October 24, 1890 a clerk found a dead woman in the middle of the road, her head cut nearly clean from her neck. Later that night a bloody bassinet was found leaning against a residential gate. The following morning at dawn, a hawker found a dead baby hidden under a nettle bush. Two years earlier, the murderer nicknamed Jack the Ripper began butchering women in the nearby Whitechapel district, causing an international sensation and striking fear into the heart of Londoners. Were the Hampstead murders the Ripper’s handiwork?

Almost certainly not.

Instead, the murder of mother and child turned out to be the final degradation suffered at the hands of a marginalized and ill young woman named Mary Pearcey. Though Mary Pearcey was eventually executed for the crime she undoubtedly committed, lingering questions and unsolved mysteries remain: Did she act alone? Was she mentally competent to stand trial? Was the double murder premeditated, a spontaneous act of vengeance or the result of impulses dulled by traumatic brain injury? In Woman at the Devil’s Door, author Sarah Beth Hopton reconstructs the life, loves, murder, trial and execution of Mary Eleanor Pearcey, one of Britian’s most violent female murderesses.

Meet the Author

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

At work in her Florida studio


Sarah Beth Hopton is an author and academic working on the forthcoming book Woman at the Devil’s Door: The Complete Case of the Hampstead Murders. She is finishing her Ph.D. in Rhetoric at the University of South Florida and teaches Creative NonFiction and English at Florida Southern College. She lives in Tampa, Florida with her Welsh Corgi, Abner, who is certain Mary did it.

The Characters

Get to know the murderess, her victims, and the man who drove her to such madness.

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