Dickens's letter on execution, 1849

Executions were still held in public in the Victorian era. They were a source of entertainment for many people and often attracted thousands of spectators. The travel agency, Thomas Cook even ran excursion trains to these events, treating them as pure tourist attractions. In 1849, Charles Dickens, along with 30 thousand other spectators, watched the hanging of a notorious pair of murderers, and was appalled by what he saw. This is a letter he sent to The Times in 1849, in which he argued that it was inhumane to conduct executions in public. In the letter, he vividly describes the execution and the actions of the crowds who had gathered to watch. It was another twenty years before hangings would be conducted within prison walls.