william corder

Bibliopegia antropodérmica

La bibliopegia antropodérmica es una técnica (ahora en desuso) que consiste en la encuadernación de libros con piel humana. Aunque en la actualidad es una práctica extremadamente inusual, alcanzó su momento de esplendor en el siglo XVII.

Existen numerosos ejemplos de libros encuadernados con esta técnica, entre ellos se encuentran algunos tratados sobre anatomía forrados con la piel del cadáver diseccionado, testamentos forrados con la piel del testador y copias de procesos judiciales forradas con la piel del condenado, como el de William Corder (el asesino de Red Barn). La mayor parte de estos libros están en bibliotecas, museos y colecciones privadas.

This murder ballad is narrated by a wealthy young gentleman named William Corder, who murdered his sweetheart, Maria Marten. It’s based on a crime that took place in Polstead, Suffolk, in May 1827. After a brief courtship, Corder told Marten that he wished to marry her, and visited her family’s home to inform them about the arrangements for the ceremony. Instead of taking her to Ipswich, however, he took her to a building on his property called the Red Barn and murdered her. After being found guilty by the jury, Corder confessed and was executed on the 11th of August, 1828. A broadsheet published in London by James Catnach about this crime sold over one million copies.

“Come all you thoughtless young men, a warning take by me,
And think upon my unhappy fate to be hanged upon a tree;

My name is William Corder, to you I do declare,
I courted Maria Marten, most beautiful and fair.
I promised I would marry her upon a certain day,
Instead of that I was resolved to take her life away.

I went into her father’s house the 18th day of May,
Saying, "My dear Maria, we will fix the wedding day.
If you will meet me at the Red Barn, as sure as I have life,
I will take you to Ipswich town, and there make you my wife.”

I then went home and fetched my gun, my pickaxe and my spade,
I went into the Red Barn, and there I dug her grave.
With heart so light, she thought no harm to meet me she did go,
I murdered her all in the Barn and laid her body low;

After the horrid deed was done, she lay weltering in her gore,
Her bleeding, mangled body I buried under the Red Barn floor.
Now all things being silent, her spirit could not rest,
She appeared unto her mother, who suckled her at her breast;

For many a long month or more, her mind being sore oppress’d,
Neither night nor day she could not take any rest.
Her mother’s mind, being so disturbed, she dreamt three nights o'er,
Her daughter she lay murdered beneath the Red Barn floor;

She sent the father to the barn when he the ground did thrust,
And there he found his daughter mingling with the dust.
My trial is hard, I could not stand, most woeful was the sight,
When her jaw-bone was brought to prove which pierced my heart quite;

Her aged father standing by, likewise his loving wife,
And in her grief her hair she tore, she scarcely could keep life.
Adieu, adieu, my loving friends, my glass is almost run,
On Monday next will be my last, when I am to be hang’d;

So you young men who do pass by, with pity look on me,
For murdering Maria Marten I was hanged upon the tree.“

 The Murder of Maria Marten, 1828

from Bloody Versicles, The Rhymes of Crime, ed. Jonathan Goodman, 1971


The Red Barn Murder. In 1827 in Polstead, Suffolk, Maria Marten was shot dead by her lover, William Corder. The two had agreed to meet at the Red Barn and elope to Ipswich. Corder fled the murder scene and sent letters to Maria’s family saying she was well. Her body was later found in the barn after her stepmother said she had dreamed about the murder. After the trial, doubts were raised about the story of the stepmother’s dreams. The stepmother was only a year older than Maria, and it was suggested that she and Corder had been having an affair, and the two had planned the murder to dispose of Maria so that it could continue without hindrance. Since her dreams had started only a few days after Corder married another woman, Mary Moore, it was suggested that jealousy was the motive for revealing the body’s location. Corder was hanged at Bury St. Edmunds in 1828 and then anatomized at Cambridge. Corder’s skin was tanned by the surgeon George Creed, and used to bind an account of the murder.