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Blood Relations

July 30, 2012

Lizzie Borden took an axe

Gave her mother forty whacks

When she saw what she had done

Gave her father forty-one

This chilling yet infamously popular rhyme alludes to the Borden murders and trial of the late nineteenth century. Though entirely inaccurate in its presentation of the facts, the rhyme nonetheless persists as part of the lasting legacy of this case.

In 1892, Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother.

On August 4, 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden were discovered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. According to testimony from the trial, 32-year-old Lizzie Borden summoned the family maid, Bridget Sullivan, around 11 AM that morning to report that someone had murdered her father.  Abby’s body was later found upstairs in the guest bedroom.  Both Andrew and Abby had died from blows to the head; a hatchet, found in the basement of the home, was later pronounced as the murder weapon despite the fact that its head was missing.

A week later, the police arrested Lizzie Borden on suspicion of the murder of her father and stepmother. The media, engrossed by the tragedy, closely followed her subsequent trial. The available evidence seemed to condemn Lizzie, including the fact that several days after the trial she had been seen burning a dress of hers on the claim that it was stained with paint. Nonetheless, the prosecution proved incapable of establishing their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and the trial concluded in June of 1893 with Lizzie’s acquittal. Thus, the truth behind the Borden case still remains a mystery today.

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion will host Blood Relations, the play based on the Borden murders.

As of this August, 120 years will have passed since the Bordens’ bodies were first discovered. To mark this grisly anniversary, the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion (200 West Tulpehocken Street) will host a dramatic reading of the play Blood Relations by acclaimed Canadian playwright Sharon Pollock. Set ten years after the murders, Pollock’s play explores the Borden tragedy through the eyes of an actress friend of Lizzie’s who seeks to understand what truly occurred on that fateful day.

In 2009, Blood Relations was performed in Germantown by The Drama Group under the direction of Josh Hitchens. Hitchens, who serves as the Creative Director for the Mansion’s Victorian Theatre program, reunites his original cast for a one-night rendition of this gruesome yet fascinating murder mystery within the setting of this elegant Victorian-era house.

Tickets are on sale now for the performance on Saturday, August 4 at 7:30 PM; reservations are required. The price is $25 per person, which includes wine and light hor d-oeuvres which will be served in the Mansion’s parlor. Please visit the Mansion’s website for more information or to purchase tickets online.

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