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The story behind Other Women – Emma Flint

  • Submitted: 3rd March 2024

Other Women – Emma Flint

The story behind Other Women – Emma Flint – A treat today! Emma Flint has travelled over to BookTrail Towers. She has a story to tell – the story behind her novel Other Women . A story behind another story I said. Let’s go! Tea, cake and comfy seats later…..the story unfolds….

Other Women Emma Flint

The Paperback cover!

Map of locations in Other Women

The inspiration for Other Women is the true story of Emily Beilby Kaye. Emily had a married lover called Herbert Patrick Mahon. He murdered her on April 15th, 1924.

Emily who was murdered by her married lover, Herbert Patrick Mahon, on April 15th, 1924.

Emily Beilby Kaye

Emily Beilby Kaye (c) Emma Flint

Map of locations in Other Women

The case was huge at the time: it was a milestone in the development of forensic science and a journalist’s dream, involving a brutal murder and a clandestine love affair. At the heart of it all, a handsome and charming man leading a secret double life.

Herbert Patrick Mahon (c) Emma Flint

Herbert Patrick Mahon (c) Emma Flint

I first read about this crime in my teens. Even then, I remember wondering why most accounts focused more on the killer than on his victims. Imagine the terror his victims must have felt when they realised what lay behind his attractive appearance and his superficial charm.

Map of locations in Other Women

Other Women by Emma Flint

I think at the heart of every novel is a question that the writer wants to explore (What would happen if…? How would it feel to…?). When I returned to the case in my forties, my initial question was: why would an intelligent, mature, respectable woman, a woman who had much in her life that was positive and good – friendships, hobbies, a good job, independence – why would she risk everything that mattered to her for a man who she knew was already married? In 1924, divorce was rare and expensive, and he had been brought up a Catholic.

The ‘murder house’ (c) Emma Flint

Map of locations in Other Women

By having an affair with him, Emily Kaye was risking her friendships, her lodgings and her livelihood (because if their affair was uncovered, it would have been she who would have had to leave her job, not him). By having a sexual relationship with him at a time when there was no child support and no safe legal abortion, she was risking destitution, even death.

Why would a woman like this, a woman I could relate to in so many ways, risk so much for an affair that could have no future?

What was it about this man that made her risk everything?

Emily Beilby Kaye (c) Emma Flint

Map of locations in Other Women

When he was on trial for murder, women queued to enter the courtroom so they could be near him. They took day trips to visit the scene of the crime. They flocked to the house where the murder had taken place and bribed the policemen on duty to be allowed to pick flowers from the garden.

This man committed a violent and brutal crime. He left a woman dead and her body barely recognisable as human. Yet the press fed into everyone’s fascination with the case. I include fictional newspapers in Other Women, but all the news articles in the novel are inspired by actual accounts of the crime. Journalists seemed fascinated that he was middle-class, cultured and married – and yet he slept with other women. They were fascinated that he was attractive and eloquent, that he belonged to his local bowling club – and yet he was on trial for a horrific murder.

Map of locations in Other Women

As I wrote the novel, I came to relate to Emily Kaye even more strongly. Like me, she moved to London from the north of England seeking a different kind of life from the one she had grown up expecting to lead. She was ambitious and independent. She didn’t marry or have children (and given the shortage of men after the First World War, she seemed likely to remain that way) However, she set out to make a rich and happy life for herself. She achieved this goal as she had people who cared for her, people who would miss her when she was dead.

Other Women was born from a kind of fury that the life she created for herself could be so entirely destroyed.

They gave the murderer newspaper headlines and hours of courtroom time. People gave him the benefit of the doubt. However, Emily Kaye and his other victims never got the chance to tell their stories. Other Women is my attempt to give them a voice.

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Other Women

Twitter:  @flint_writes   Facebook: emmaflint.author

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