Fifty years after the Moors Murders and 15 years since Myra Hindley died in prison, after one of the longest sentences served by a woman, this book raises some delicate and searching questions. They include: “Why was Hindley treated differently?”, “Why do we need to create demons?” and “What impact does this have on our whole notion of crime, punishment and justice?”
Set against the political backlash of one of the most notorious cases in English criminal history, The Monstering of Myra Hindley is a perceptive, first-hand portrayal of the most talked-about and maligned of women. Nina Wilde invites readers to hold back any adverse preconceptions as she seeks to show how the media selected Hindley as a monster and the politics at play around her de-humanising captivity. She compares how things are done in some other European countries and how the UK itself routinely releases others equally bad (arguably worse) quietly and away from the public gaze. Everyone, the author included, recognises the plight of the victims but this should not be allowed to mask other wrongs that, with hindsight, become increasingly apparent in Hindley’s case.
‘The book has two main arguments. Hindley was treated as she was first because she was a woman and consequently what she did was worse because she was a woman. Second the unfairness she experienced was because the press would not leave her alone and continually brought up the story and the evil nature of her character … I think Wilde is right on both counts … the book is written well and makes the above arguments well. It thus serves as a reminder that tariff decisions on life imprisonment should be decided upon by the judiciary and that they should be carried out without political bias or influence.’– Prison Service Journal.
‘I think she became a national scapegoat for that part of the social mind that is cruel and has contempt for vulnerability’— Dr Gwen Adshead
Criminologist Nina Wilde was born in Holland and first met Myra Hindley in Cookham Wood Prison, Kent in 1993, where she was engaged in research. She was shocked when the Governor told her that Hindley had already been in prison for almost 30 years, thinking that because sentences of this length are largely unknown in Europe (except for war criminals, though even these people had been released) there must have been some kind of mistake. Then she discovered the power of the media and career-led hesitancy of a succession of Home Secretaries.
Judith Jones trained as a social worker and has worked throughout her career in the field of mental health, violence against women and children, and child protection. She began to write drama in 1999 with her partner Beatrix Campbell.
Beatrix Campbell OBE is a prizewinning writer and broadcaster, and over many years has been a Writer in Residence in various prisons.