Albert Pierrepoint and the cultural persona of the twentieth-century hangman

Seal, Lizzie (2016) Albert Pierrepoint and the cultural persona of the twentieth-century hangman. Crime, Media, Culture, 12 (1). pp. 83-100. ISSN 1741-6590

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Abstract

Albert Pierrepoint was Britain’s most famous 20th-century hangman. This article utilises diverse sources in order to chart his public representation, or cultural persona, as hangman from his rise to prominence in the mid-1940s to his portrayal in the biopic Pierrepoint(2005). It argues that Pierrepoint exercised agency in shaping this persona through publishing his autobiography and engagement with the media, although there were also representations that he did not influence. In particular, it explores three iterations of his cultural persona – the Professional Hangman, the Reformed Hangman and the Haunted Hangman. Each of these built on and reworked historical antecedents and also communicated wider understandings and contested meanings in relation to capital punishment. As a hangman who remained in the public eye after the death penalty in Britain was abolished, Pierrepoint was an important, authentic link to the practice of execution and a symbolic figure in debates over reintroduction. In the 21st century, he was portrayed as a victim of the ‘secondary trauma’ of the death penalty, which resonated with worldwide campaigns
for abolition.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Capital punishment; cultural persona; hangman; Pierrepoint; executioner
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture
Depositing User: Lizzie Seal
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 12:22
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 09:59
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60124

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