As I have said, I’ve been trying to find references to cases of hysteria and distress occasioned by the Madeleine Smith trial.
In the course of doing this I’ve come across a number of reports which show just how fascinated people were with the case and what happened to Madeleine Smith after the trial – she had the good taste to drop out of sight, which had the unfortunate effect of causing all sorts of rumours that she had gone to Australia or to America.
There’s a wonderful story in the Illawarra Mercury of 30 November 1857 that’s worth reproducing in full:
On the same page is an article about the doings of Lola Montez in the USA and Canada. How true the story was is not important, it anchors Lola Montez on the east coast of America at the time, something that seems to have given rise to the following rumour in the Ballarat Star
Obviously completely without foundation.
As far as we can tell Madeleine Smith was living quietly with relatives in London and trying to reinvent herself.
While she’s been portrayed as some sort of conniving woman, she was an ordinary girl who enjoyed dancing, champagne, and as we know from her letters, sex.
And if it wasn’t for her quite explicit letters, which caused a major sensation at the time of her trial, the whole Madeleine Smith saga would be forgotten as just another Victorian murder …