‘Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain.’  Sir Edmund Hillary

1953 lies at the very epicentre of this story. It was the year of John Christie’s manhunt, arrest, trial and execution - and, in the wake of all that, the first misgivings about whether Timothy Evans had in fact been guilty and therefore rightfully executed. Up to this time, Evans’s conviction for the murder of his infant daughter, along with the assumption that he had also killed his wife, had been regarded as certainly tragic, but nevertheless not very remarkable or controversial for a family in their circumstances.

By way of context, it is useful to consider some of the other major events of that year:

Although thus far largely overlooked by history, it was also the year of the author’s birth.

As well as the year in which John Christie’s life came to an end, it is of some interest to consider, also by way of context, the year in which it began:


In terms of famous births, Christie takes his place amongst a surprising number of notables that year including:

Dr John Bodkin Adams (a British physician suspected of having been a highly-prolific serial killer of his patients, and active during a similar period to Christie), gangster Al Capone, actors Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Fred Astaire, Charles Boyer, Gloria Swanson and Charles Laughton, writers Noël Coward, Ernest Hemmingway and Neville Shute, film director Alfred Hitchcock, musicians Duke Ellington and Hoagy Carmichael, and lawyer and judge Lord Denning.


Events of the year included the first successful wireless transmission, by Guglielmo Marconi, of a radio signal across the English Channel, the outbreak of the Second Boer War and Siege of Mafeking, the introduction of the OXO brand, and the patenting of the paperclip.

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(Revision: August 2020)