More on Edith Thompson: Alma Rattenbury

An interesting contrast to Edith Thompson is Francis Rattenbury's wife, Alma. Her overwrought 18-year-old lover, Stoner, hit Mr. Rattenbury over the head with a mallet out of jealousy. 
The household had an unconventional arrangement--Mr. Rattenbury was more or less aware that his wife had a lover or at least a kind of cicisbeo.

Alma was over 15 years Stoner's senior (32 years younger than her husband) and prone to melodrama. As the affair wore on, and Stoner proved to be more peevish and demanding than swooning and understanding, she tried to break up with him. She took him back because she believed his (false) story that he was on drugs,  and she wanted to cure him. It is entirely likely that she knew Stoner was full of it. But, eh, it was exciting.

The entire household was rather like the sitcom Soap come to real life--an endless parade of arguments and sensation that the people involved rather took for granted.

The difference to Edith Thompson is that Alma Rattenbury took full responsibility for Stoner's behavior. She knew exactly why he'd done what he did, the petulant brat that he was. She knew that although she had never promised Stoner anything, her waffling and spoiling had created a monster of jealousy and entitlement. She wasn't executed (and shouldn't have been). Yet she sadly killed herself within days of her acquittal.
It's odd to think of criminals in history getting
older but Stoner was released from prison
in 1942 to fight in the war. He died in 2000.

Laura Thompson naturally blames the mean, mean court for Rattenbury's suicide as well as the public's social outrage at Stoner's supposed youthful innocence. However, it is obvious from the police reports and court transcripts that right off the bat, Mrs. Rattenbury was a suicide risk. She didn't see the murder coming. The moment it did, she felt awful and faced quite honestly her part in things.

Unlike Edith Thompson, Mrs. Rattenbury likely would have listened to outside intervention, someone saying, "Oh, my gosh, dump that boy already. What are you doing?!" Social pressure in Mrs. Rattenbury's case may have done her a great deal of good.

I think Edith Thompson would have gone out and found herself another Bywaters.

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