Biographies / Autobiorgaphies

A Good Day For a Hanging – The Real Ruth Ellis Story.

by Carol Ann Lee.


There seems to be a nostalgia centred around the 1950s. People think of it as the decade where women wore bright dresses and drank Folgers coffee while their men swaggered home from work with a megawatt smile and children played in the road. Right? Well, I’m not sure how sarcastic I’m being, but that is one side of the 1950s.

The other side is the underbelly of it, and that is where the above mentioned book by Carol Ann Lee comes in to it.

Ruth Ellis is remembered due to the murder of her boyfriend, David Blakely. I read the book over the space of about a week, and it definitely focused on the flipside of life in the glorious 50s, especially for Ruth Ellis who was torn apart by the press when she was imprisoned, due to her blonde hair and ‘actress’ past. She was also eschewed because she didn’t live up to the expectation of happily married wife and mother that women had to fit into in those days.

I didn’t set out to read this book. I saw it on display in the foyer of the library in the town where I live, and I was curious because I was first introduced to the Ruth Ellis story by Jacqueline Wilson’s autobiography, Jacky Daydream, and I was curious to find out more but didn’t do so properly for several years. Also, this book was only published in 2012, so…

The book emphasizes the seamy backstory that made Ruth Ellis Ruth Ellis, certainly a good topic psychologically speaking.

Sadly, from childhood, all her relationships with men included physical abuse of some sort, and she almost came to expect it. But her relationship with the man she would eventually murder is interesting. It was volatile, and from a modern perspective women would probably take Ruth’s side of things, instead of painting her as a ‘harlot’ as the tabloids of the day called her. Tabloids have always loved sensationalism, and maybe this was the start of their bloodlust for it. It continues to this day.

I don’t know what stance I would take in the Ruth Ellis case if I was looking at it from a 21st century perspective. Certainly, with our modern obsession with people’s problems, she would’ve been able to be interviewed and given her own side of the story, as well as receiving all the medical or psychological help that she needed. But there’s no way of knowing, because she was a victim of circumstance and her time where women had to fit in with with a rigid stereotype.

Thank you for reading.





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