The Cruel Mother

A family ghost laid to rest

by Siân Busby

  • Published: 19 May 2005
  • Price: £8.99
  • Format: B Format Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781904977063
  • Buy it now from

Winner of the Mind Book of the Year Award 2004

In 1919 Siân Busby’s great-grandmother, Beth, gave birth to triplets. One of the babies died at birth and eleven days later she drowned the surviving twins in a bath of cold water. She was sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment at Broadmoor.

The murder, and the deep sense of shame it generated, resounded through the lives of Beth’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In Siân’s case, ill-suppressed knowledge of the event manifested itself in nightmares and contributed towards a bout of postnatal depression. After the birth of her second son, she decided to investigate the story once and for all and lay to rest the ghosts which have haunted the family for 80 years…

“A gripping tale of madness and infanticide during the time of the Great War… Powerful and disturbing”
Margaret Forster
“Siân Busby’s deeply felt and well researched book is a tale of awful enchantment”
Erica Wagner, The Times
“Fascinating: part autobiography, part moving family history, with sharly etched portraits richly embedded in their social and historical milieu”
Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph

About Siân Busby

Siân Busby was an award-winning writer, broadcaster and film maker. She published four books, including McNaughten, a novel published to critical acclaim in 2009, and her final work, A Commonplace Killing, will be released in May 2013. She was married to the BBC Business editor, Robert Peston, and had two sons. She died in September 2012 after a long illness and will be much missed.