George Vass: The role of the Newcastle press in the making and un-making of a monster

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Departments

Details

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2018
Event1868: A Civilizing Moment? Reflecting on 150 Years since the Abolition of Public Execution - Literary and Philisophical Society, Newcastle
Duration: 6 Jun 20186 Jun 2018

Conference

Conference1868: A Civilizing Moment? Reflecting on 150 Years since the Abolition of Public Execution
CityNewcastle
Period6/06/186/06/18
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

This paper explores the role of the Victorian press in Newcastle 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 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 or a ‘monster’. However, by the time of his execution, he had transformed into an ‘unfortunate man, whose lot it was to die the death of a dog’. This paper examines the newspaper accounts, and the seeming redemption of Vass, and considers the role of the press in establishing a criminal identity for the contemporary readership.