Poison throughout the ages has been a subject of fascination. This is particularly true in Victorian era Britain where the population became fascinated with poison as a means for murder. Although poisoning had not been new, the Victorian era produced an apex in poisoning cases. This essay hopes to explore the progression of murder through poison in Victorian society from its humble beginnings in the home as a common household product to a tool of deliberate murder and the subsequent fear it instilled that inspired legal reform that exists today. Firstly, this will be explored through the place poison had in the common home and Victorian society. Secondly, I will explore the professionalization of poisoning and growing fear of murder that became prevalent in the 1840s. Thirdly, I will explore the legal framework that changed in hopes to limit access and reduce the chance of poisoning. Fourthly, given this as context I will explore how the poisoning trial of Christiana Edmunds in 1872 became sensationalized because it reinvigorated fears of poisoning throughout Brighton.
Arsenic and other poisons had commonly been used throughout antiquity, but in Victorian Britain there was a rise in popular use in the ingredients. As the Industrial Revolution took Great Britain by storm arsenic, a “byproduct of the mining industry,” became readily available in unprecedented quantities. The result was a lowering of prices with the surplus in the substance. Due to this, the Victorians