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The Trials of Laura Fair
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The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West

Carole Haber


On November 3, 1870, on a San Francisco ferry, Laura Fair shot a bullet into the heart of her married lover, A. P. Crittenden. Throughout her two murder trials, Fair's lawyers, supported by expert testimony from physicians, claimed that the shooting was the result of temporary insanity caused by a severely painful menstrual cycle. The first jury disregarded such testimony, choosing instead to focus on Fair's disreputable character. In the second trial, however, an effective defense built on contemporary medical beliefs and gendered stereotypes led to a verdict that shocked Americans across the ... More

Keywords: San Francisco ferry, Laura Fair, A. P. Crittenden, murder trials, temporary insanity, menstrual cycle, gendered stereotypes, mental illness, Victorian West, suffrage

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9781469607580
Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014 DOI:10.5149/9781469607597_Haber


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Carole Haber, author