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    Seventeenth-century legal fictions: the case of John Perry

    Hudson, Judith (2017) Seventeenth-century legal fictions: the case of John Perry. The Seventeenth Century , pp. 1-24. ISSN 0268-117X.

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    This essay discusses the role of narrative in the transmission of legal “truth” in the early modern period, taking as its focus the John Perry murder case of 1660. Perry, a servant, confessed to and was convicted of the murder of his missing master, William Harrison, in the village of Campden in Gloucestershire. Two years after Perry’s execution, however, Harrison reappeared, offering in explanation of his absence a lurid and incredible account of his kidnap and transport to the slave markets of Turkey. In the Perry case complex and unstable narratives, with debts to a range of literary genres, served to obscure the central question of a missing body. This narrativisation of circumstance gained further momentum once the affair began to circulate in textual form, when, I will contend, it became not only a legal story but a way of telling stories about the law. In particular, the case raises questions of methodology: where can we, as scholars, locate truth within the ambiguities of law in this period, and is that truth really of value in our consideration of early modern legal and literary texts?


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Law, literature, popular print, murder, Barbary captivity
    School: School of Arts > English, Theatre and Creative Writing
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 31 May 2017 13:10
    Last Modified: 31 May 2017 13:10


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