The Black Widow

Following on from my last piece about Mr. Big and the Wake in the East End pub, here is the story I promised about a murderer and jail-bird who held her book signing at a pub in Essex.

Photo: Jane Risdon

My brother was present in his local pub when an older lady set up a table and started laying out paperbacks and hardbacked copies of what transpired to be her latest book, alongside several others she’d written beforehand. Nothing unusual about that, we authors have to ply our wares wherever we can.

The author was there to sign copies of her latest novel.

What was unusual, however, was the author.

She is a convicted murderer, a jailbird, and now a best-selling author, who lives and writes novels in Essex. She is known as The Black Widow because all her lovers ended up dead or in prison.

As he watched her arrange her books the pub began to fill up with the usual customers there to have a quiet drink with friends and colleagues. There were some others who’d come to lend their support for the author, friend, and colleague – at least that was my brother’s assumption.

Photo: Jane Risdon

These characters were mainly from the East End, judging by their accents, although some were Essex locals apparently. Mostly men, who carried themselves with a certain swagger and self-confidence, they were well-known and ‘respected’ by the criminal classes to which they belonged. When they entered the bar a reverent hush descended. All eyes turned to them.

Looking around the bar they nodded to familiar faces, scrutinised strangers – including my brother and his partner – before heading over to the author and her books.

Photo: Jane Risdon

My brother was unable to hear the conversations between them but there were kisses, embraces, and huge smiles all around.

The convicted murderess has quite a biography and for a publisher, it must be like hitting a seam of gold in a mine. What a backstory to help sell her books.

Known as The Black Widow because, as I mentioned, all of her lovers ended up dead or in prison, she began her career as a gangster’s lookout after attending a party given by an armed robber who was out of prison on temporary home leave, towards the end of his sentence. They met and fell in love. She married him after he’d gone back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. He had to be accompanied by an armed guard to the wedding which I gather was not held in the prison.

Photo: Jane Risdon

Later she became his getaway driver and eventually took to carrying guns during robberies. She went on to amass over one million pounds from her criminal activities. She said she loved confronting men in armoured vans, forcing them to hand over the money at the point of her weapon.

Eventually, she was convicted and spent seven years in prison as part of an armed gang that robbed Post Offices, where the staff and customers were sprayed with ammonia. A delightful woman I can hear you say.

After her husband died she met two other men, one of whom spent time in prison for armed robbery soon after meeting her. She paid one of them to kill the other upon his release from prison. However, the would-be assassin lost his nerve and she picked up the gun and forced the victim to kneel in front of her. The shot caused horrific injuries to his head, and when she fired a second shot it broke his neck, killing him. This took place only minutes after his release from prison.

Photo: Jane Risdon

She spent over eighteen years (life sentence originally) in prison for his murder. During her career, she got to know many famous East End gangsters and violent criminals, and she became friends with some of those whom she met inside.

The Black Widow married three times – her last marriage was to a millionaire who died in 2016 – and at one wedding members of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) were guests. She has two children from her first husband and has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A book was written about her in 2002 detailing her life and crimes. I should mention that The Black Widow continues to deny murder, as she did at her trial.

In 2019 she wrote her life story which became the True Crime Book of the Year, and she has written at least two books since. Her latest was published in September 2022.

You’ll notice I have not named the author. This is deliberate on my part. If you are keen to find out more, please Google her or look for The Black Widow on Amazon.

The book signing went well, although my brother was unable to say how many books she sold. He didn’t buy one, he is not into Crime or True Crime, but he stayed for the event so he could tell me about it, knowing my interest in reading and writing in the genre.

I hope this piece has perked your interest, especially if you love to read about True Crimes and those committing them.

This is an update to my previous piece, Observing Mr.Big in Action.

If you’ve read any of The Black Widow’s books, do let us know.


  1. Hi Jane, I have heard of the ‘Black Widow’ and knew a bit of her story. I did not know she’d turned author. I suppose her books are right up there with Spare by Price Harry. It seems a bit unfair for us ordinary mortals who aren’t criminals or born into a life of wealth in the public eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, it is wrong. I am not sure if she actually wrote it herself. My brother thought she was a mean looking piece of work. But he was fascinated to see her in then flesh and with all the usual suspects who frequented his local. I wish I had been there as he often took me to ‘interesting,’ places to observe the ‘culture!’ Talk about eye-opening. She has books with Martine Cole endorsing them I think. Look on Amazon, they are there. I just wonder at the sort of people walking around unknown to us all. Spare… I am ashamed of him and disgusted. Whatever did his family do to warrant him! I think he needs time in a hospital, not with pseudo psychiatrists. So many ghost written trashy books out there. Yet, we all struggle on our own. If only the stories could speak for themselves instead of us all having to resort to murder or betrayal to get a foot in the publishing door.

      Liked by 2 people

          • I’m finding it a bit too much of ‘Poor little me’ it must be awful for his brother William. I’m just glad he has Kate. William has so much responsibility rest on his shoulders. Harry could have been like his uncle Edward and made a quiet life of his own with the freedom to do whatever he wanted. He sold his sad little story for gold. He didn’t want any responsibilities so he stepped back, but he didn’t want to give up the wealth.
            None of us have that situation to worry about in our lives. I think Meghan thought it was easier playing Princess 👑 until she found out it was hard work. With no freedom

            Liked by 1 person

            • I remember watching TV news one evening and she’d been visiting some sort of women’s’ group in a poor area of London and they were making cakes and chatting about their lives. She sat with a fixed smile on her face and made all the right noises, but I told my husband I saw the moment flicker in her eyes when she thought, ‘Bugger, is this what my life has become, am I going to have to sit and listen to this crap forever?’ I saw it in her eyes. I told him, she’s bored out of her tree and is wondering what the hell! Soon after they sought freedom, privacy and le, ft this terrible country, England. What was she expecting? Stupid money grabbing, shallow, woman.


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