George Vass: the making and un-making of a monster

Helen Rutherford, Clare Sandford-Couch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper explores the role of the Victorian press in constructing – and subsequently deconstructing - a criminal character. In Newcastle upon Tyne in 1863, George Vass was tried, found guilty, and hanged for wilful murder. Contemporary newspaper accounts, refer specifically to Vass’s lack of emotional response during his trial and sentence. This in turn led many newspaper reports to describe Vass as without feeling, a bad character: a ‘monster’, in effect. However, by the time of his execution, we read of a ‘wretched young man’, an ‘unfortunate man, whose lot it was to die the death of a dog’. We aim to question whether there is any evidence of real change in Vass, or whether these newspaper accounts were intended to serve a particular purpose for the contemporary readership. In doing so, we will address what underpinned the process of first making Vass into a monster, and his subsequent ‘un-monstering’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018
EventFrankenstein: A Multidisciplinary Conference 2018 - Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Jun 201814 Jun 2018


ConferenceFrankenstein: A Multidisciplinary Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle upon Tyne


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