From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was a woman in New England who was tried for killing her father and stepmother with an axe on August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts. The murders, subsequent trial, and ensuing trial by media became a cause célèbre. Although Lizzie Borden was acquitted, no one else was ever arrested or tried and she has remained a notorious figure in American folklore. Dispute over the identity of the killer or killers continues to this day. Lizzie's life before the murder trial was quite mundane. When Lizzie Borden was at the proper age she went to the Morgan Street School where she had her primary and grammar training. She had a relatively religious upbringing and was a regular face at the Central Congregational Church. After graduating high school she became more involved with her church as means to escape her uncomfortable home life. She taught Sunday school class to immigrant children and became the secretary-treasurer of the Christian Endeavor. Lizzie Borden also became involved with the politics and social problems of her day and became active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
Television and film
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 1, episode 17, "The Older Sister" (first aired 1956), was a fictional story suggesting that it was Emma Borden who committed the murders, and that Lizzie endured the trial and subsequent notoriety to protect her older sister. A similar story titled "Goodbye Miss Lizzie Borden" was a 1955 episode of Suspense.
- Armstrong Circle Theatre, season 12, episode 1, "Legend of Murder – The Untold Story of Lizzie Borden" (first aired October 11, 1961), was a dramatization of Edward D. Radin's book Lizzie Borden: The Untold Story (Simon and Schuster, 1961), which put forth the theory that Bridget Sullivan was the actual murderess. Borden was portrayed by Clarice Blackburn and Bridget by Mary Doyle.
- Elizabeth Montgomery depicted Borden in William Bast's two hour television movie, The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975).
- In 2004, the Discovery Channel aired an investigative documentary called Lizzie Borden Had an Axe. In the episode, a pair of detectives used modern forensics to exonerate Sullivan and indicate that Borden could have been the killer.
- The April 20th, 2012 episode of the Travel Channel series Dead Files centered around the Lizzie Borden house and murders.
- Composer Morton Gould and choreographer Agnes de Mille created a ballet based on the life of Borden in 1948, entitled Fall River Legend.
- Composer Jack Beeson, librettist Kenward Elmslie, and scenarist Richard Plant created an opera, Lizzie Borden, in 1965.
- The anthology of short plays, "Sepia and Song," contained a play called "A Memory of Lizzie," with scenes from Borden's childhood interpersed with quotes from her trial.
- American composer and educator, Thomas Albert, composed a one-act opera, Lizbeth, based on the legend of Lizzie Borden in 1976. The work, with libretto by Lindé Hayen Herman, was commissioned by a grant from the National Endowment from the Arts, and was a finalist in the 1988 National Opera Association's chamber opera competition.
- Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock premiered at Theatre Tree, Edmonton, Alberta Canada in 1980. The play is set in 1902, with its "dream thesis" set in 1892, at Fall River, Massachusetts. It explores the events leading up to the trial.Template:Citation needed
- The Testimony of Lizzie Borden by Eric Stedman, a docudrama staged in an accurate reproduction of the Borden sitting room which re-created much of Borden's actual inquest testimony, premiered at Theatre on the Towpath in New Hope, Pa. in 1994 and was presented in Fall River in 1995.Template:Citation needed
- Lizzie Borden's Tempest by Brendan Byrnes played the New York International Fringe Festival in 1998. As Borden reads the role of Miranda in The Tempest with her local theatre club, Shakespeare's storm resurrects and reunites the Borden Family. The play's central idea is based on an actual program displayed at the Fall River Historical Society that lists a "Miss Borden" playing the role of Miranda in The Tempest.
- In New Faces of 1952, there is a song skit entitled "Lizzie Borden" which is a mini-play, involving the cancellation of the hoedown, due to the trial of Lizzie Borden, who does get a trial at the hoedown on that same day and is acquitted. It features the memorable line: "You can't chop your mother down in Massachusetts", because "Massachusetts is a long way from New York".