The Post-Mortem Travels of a 19th Century Criminal Corpse
A Live, Illustrated Zoom Talk with historian Dr Shane McCorristine on Wednesday the 16th March 2022 at 7:00 pm

This lecture will take place virtually, via Zoom. Attendees may request a video recording after the lecture takes place by emailing proof of purchase to

In this talk, historian Shane McCorristine reveals one of the most remarkable criminal afterlives in history. On the 18th May 1827, the son of a respectable farmer, William Corder, murdered his lover Maria Martin in the Red Barn, a well-known landmark in the village of Polstead, Suffolk. After Corder was arrested and tried in a high profile case, he was found guilty and subsequently hanged and flayed at a public ticketed execution. The next day, his body was sent to the anatomists and after a full dissection many of his body parts were sold to members of the public as murderabilia.

McCorristine will explore why some criminal corpses are marked out as particularly heinous and deserving of post-mortem punishment. He will reveal the practice of relic hunters, the art of murder ballads and melodramas, the stories of books bound in human skin and the fates of the skeletons of criminals.

Tickets £5 including a 20% donation toward a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

Dr Shane McCorristine
Shane McCorristine is a Lecturer in Modern British History at Newcastle University. An interdisciplinary historian, his research focuses on the 'night side' of modern experience. Drawing approaches from cultural history and the medical humanities, he explores social attitudes toward dreams, ghosts, death and the supernatural. He is the author of Spectres of the Self: Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-seeing in England, 1750-1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Spiritualism, Mesmerism, and the Occult, 1800-1920 (Pickering & Chatto, 2012), and most recently, The Spectral Arctic: A History of Dreams and Ghosts in Polar Exploration (UCL Press, 2018).

PLEASE NOTE - This talk will take place virtually via Zoom. Ticket sales will end at 5:00 pm BST on the day of the lecture. A link to the conference will be sent to the email used at checkout at 3:00 pm BST on the day of the event. Please email in the event your link fails to arrive.

Image credit - illustration featured in original 19th century pamphlet about the murder at the red barn. Public domain courtesy of Wikimedia. Wellcome Collection.