The Hanging of Margaret Dickson

The Hanging of Margaret Dickson

Alison Butler

Historical Fiction

In an age when women are expected to know their place, be submissive, dutiful and chaste, Maggie Dickson, a Musselburgh fishwife, is often in trouble. She’s outspoken, promiscuous and vituperative. While her husband’s at sea, she sells her fish, sleeps with men for pleasure or money and looks after her two children. In time, her husband abandons her. Maggie quits Musselburgh and heads for Newcastle to stay with relatives. [NP] During the winter of 1723, a fisherman finds the dead, naked body of a baby boy. Fingers are soon pointing in the direction of a stranger working in a local tavern, a woman recently estranged from her mariner husband. It is rumoured that she’s been having a passionate affair with the innkeeper’s young son, William Bell, and that he is the father of the dead child. [NP] Maggie is arrested and taken to Edinburgh tollbooth to await trial, is found guilty and is sentenced to death. The news spreads like wildfire and, as Maggie languishes...
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