By Alexis Coe
In 1892, the United States was once passionate about a teenage murderess, however it wasn't her crime that surprised the nation—it used to be her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had deliberate to move as a guy so as to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but if their love letters have been found, they have been forbidden from ever talking again.
Freda adjusted to this destiny with an ease that shocked a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each one unanswered letter—and her father's razor quickly went lacking. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée's throat. Her same-sex love used to be deemed insane by means of her father that very evening, and health workers agreed: This used to be a deadly and incurable perversion. because the court was once increased to house nationwide curiosity, Alice spent months in jail—including the evening that 3 of her fellow prisoners have been lynched (an occasion which captured the eye of journalist and civil rights activist Ida...
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Additional info for Alice + Freda Forever. A Murder in Memphis
I imagined a book that was both written and curated. I wanted readers to see my research, to explore the archival mix, connect with the material, and draw their own conclusions. Six years after I missed my subway stop, I found myself walking through Elmwood Cemetery, led by Vincent Astor, a local historian in Memphis, Tennessee. I was, at this point, thoroughly consumed by the sad tale of Alice and Freda. The closer we got to their graves, the heavier my body felt. I reminded myself, as I always do when approaching that very last folder in an archive: you already know how the story ends.
Twenty-five days into the New Year, 1892, Alice awoke to a clear sky on the very day she needed it. It was nearly three o’clock by the time she carefully steered the newly shod horses along the thawing roads to Lillie’s house. Her friend was caring for a young nephew, but nonetheless readily accepted the invitation, wrapping herself and the boy in jackets and hats, gloves and scarves. They soon settled into the buggy alongside Alice, completely unaware of her plan. The only warning sign was carefully hidden away in her dress pocket.
Schoolgirls went chumming as an imitation of what was to come, not living what had already arrived. Couples who were betrothed in earnest, which is what Alice believed them to be, did not behave that way. Either way, in order to make it to the altar without suspicion, Alice reasoned they should appear to be the unexceptional half of a socially acceptable quartet. IF ALICE HAD A POST-ENGAGEMENT POLICY, it was to pass. They were to continue to pass as girls chumming, and then later, Alice was to pass as man.
Alice + Freda Forever. A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe