John Milton’s 160-year-old poetry book covered in skin of hanged murderer

February 26th, 2011 - 5:08 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 26 (ANI): To the naked eye, it appears to be like any other book from the 19th century - but a closer inspection of the 1852 edition of The Poetical Works of John Milton reveals that it is bound with human skin.

Executed murderer George Cudmore’s body was stripped of its flesh shortly after he was hanged for killing his lover. He poisoned Sarah Dunn with a potion of roasted apple and milk, laced with arsenic.

Cudmore was tried and sentenced to death in March 1830, in front of a thousand-strong crowd in Exeter, Devon.

Cudmore’s body was then sent to the Devon and Exeter Hospital for dissection and a portion of his skin fell into the hands of a W Clifford, an Exeter bookseller.

The skin was used to bind Milton’s prose and the volume is now to go on public display for the first time after it was donated to the Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter.

“It is certainly an unusual and grisly thing, but if it weren’t for the description, it would be difficult to discern its past. There is no hair or stray nipple or anything like that. It is outwardly unremarkable but a closer inspection reveals it to be a surprising artefact,” the Daily Mail quoted senior assistant librarian Tony Rouse, as saying.

The book is going on display as part of a crime and punishment exhibition, which will also feature talks on executions and witch trials. (ANI)

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