Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm: Volume 1

Bella cover

Regular readers will know this is a story I’ve been fascinated by this case for about 15 years. I first read a brief one paragraph summary of the then-70-year old mystery in a newspaper and it’s never been far from my imagination ever since. In 2006 I set about writing what I thought would be the definitive work on the case, a long article that ended up sprawling into The Hangman’s Breakfast, my never-to-be-published (for which you ought to be truly thankful) dark history of post-World War 2 Britain, seen through the dark lens of true crime reportage. I thought I’d written the last word on a mystery that would never be solved, but since then there’s been several other books published about it, some desultory TV coverage, and even a feature film. However, none go as far as Alex Merrill, a 15-year old boy from Halesowen who together with his father Pete, has produced a two-volume study of the mystery of ‘who put Bella in the wych elm’, one that revisits the original police files and offers a radical new theory on what happened, as well as the first facial reconstruction of what Bella might have looked like. Pete Merrill commissioned me to produce art and design for the two volumes, together with internal illustrations. I was very pleased to be involved, and I’m glad to see it finally go to print. Published by APS Books in Stourbridge, you can order copies from Amazon.

Here’s the cover to my 2006 essay about the case:

GOAH paperback mock-up WEB

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The Way To Go

SM 28 Jan 2018

Not giving a shit, she decided, is like the defrost option on a car’s heater than miraculously unfogs the windshield, allowing you to see where you’re headed.
Richard Russo, Empire Falls

Photograph taken at Hawkchurch, Devon, January 2018.

A Ridiculous Beginning

SH 19 Jan 2018

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.
Albert Camus

The Dark Corners Of Your Own Soul

Pond Dyrham 27 Nov 2017

It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.
W.B. Yeats

Photograph taken at Dyrham, November 2017.

Blame The Future

Morley 2009

It is hard not to see into the future, faced with today’s blind architecture – a thousand times more stupid and revolting than that of the other ages. How bored we shall be inside!
Andre Breton

Photograph taken in Morley, Leeds, May 2009.

A Rustling In The leaves

Hawks1 25 Jun 2014

Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.
Walter Benjamin

Photograph taken in Hawksbury, South Gloucestershire, June 2014.

The Direction Of Our Fear

EG 13 Jan 2018

We must travel in the direction of our fear.
John Berryman

Photograph taken ’round our way’, January 2018.

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