A reading from the pioneers of True Crime
“Violent Cremation: The Terrible Vengeance of a Father”
By Lafcadio Hearn
November 9 & 10, 1874
True crime history is not just about reviving the stories of America’s scandals, scoundrels and scourges, but also about exploring the history of true crime as a genre.
Although he became better known late in his career for his books on travel and on Japanese legends and ghost stories, Lafcadio Hearn began his professional writing career as a staff correspondent for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He was such a devotee of Edgar Allen Poe that he carried the nickname “The Raven,” given to him by an early mentor, throughout his life. The devotion shows in much of his writing, including this account of a tanyard murder in 1874.
Even though the author was visually impaired, Hearn’s account of this ghastly crime contains graphic details of the discovery of the body and the autopsy, so if you are sensitive to such things, you might want to fast forward through that part.
The tanyard was situated next to a soap factory that had caught fire the previous night and attracted a crowd of 50,000, the newspapers said, to watch the massive flames. Such was the mood of the city that Hearn begins his report with a quote from William Shakespeare’s tragic Hamlet.
Musical direction and theme music by Chuck Wiggins
Produced by Richard O Jones