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    Ruth Ellis's suit

    Nead, Lynda (2021) Ruth Ellis's suit. British Art Studies 21 , ISSN 2058-5462.

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    On 10th April 1955 Ruth Ellis shot and killed her lover outside a north London pub. She was arrested on the spot and tried for murder in the Number One Court at the Old Bailey; her highly-publicised trial was short and the jury took just over twenty minutes to reach a guilty verdict. She was executed on 12th July 1955 and was the last woman to be hanged in England. This is an article about the suit that Ellis wore to her trial. It was a smart, black, fur-trimmed tailored suit, which she wore with a white, silk shirt and high-heeled black shoes. Her hair was freshly dyed and her make-up was perfect, she intended to look her best for the Old Bailey; and yet, her biographies record that someone in the courtroom was heard to announce that she looked like ‘a typical West End tart.’ What can be learned from the disjuncture between Ellis’s self-perception and the perception of the public? What can a suit tell us about gender, sex and class in post-war Britain? Clothes weave in and out of Ellis’s life story and the story of Britain after the War; they were necessary and desirable, part of a personal and national masquerade.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Lynda Nead
    Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 07:53
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:15


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