As valentine’s Day approaches I find myself weeping silently for not Miss Bonnie Parker of Bonnie & Clyde fame but for the beautiful, tragic Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hung in Britain.

On the morning July 13th, 1955 regardless of strong public opinion Ruth Ellis was hung by hangman Albert Pierpont

at HM Holloway Prison who afterwards stated of Ruth

Ruth met her death courageously, I have seen brave men die, but nobody braver than her,” he said.

Ruth was of a petite build, fragile, at only 5ft 2in in her stocking feet and weighing less than 7st. Bottled platinum blonde whose hair colour choice and career choices were chosen for her by society, the very same society that condemned her, but then at the eleventh hour attempted to save her life……

Ruth Ellis’s life can be considered nothing but tragic and heart-breaking…… Life was unquestionably not kind to her.


At seventeen years of age Ruth found herself pregnant by her married Canadian boyfriend, she gave birth to a son and at first his father sent money, but within a year this money had stopped driving Ruth to make the decision to send her son Andy Hornby to live with her mother and father.

It was at this point in her life that Ruth chose to turn to nude glamour photography as it paid considerably more than any of the shop or factory work which was predominately what a girl of her class and education standing.

It was after this life choice that thing began to spiral out of control, Ruth went to work as a night club hostess at the Court Club in Duke Street, London, it was here that she turned to prostitution.

In early 1950 she found herself pregnant for the second time, this time allegedly by a regular customer, this pregnancy was terminated (illegally) in the third month and she returned to work at the Court Club.

On 8th November 1950, Ruth married another Court Club customer 41-year-old George Ellis, a divorced dentist with two sons

Gorge Ellis was apparently a violent alcoholic, jealous and possessive, and the marriage deteriorated rapidly because he was convinced she was having an affair.

Ruth supposedly left George Ellis several times but always returned to him.

In 1951, while four months pregnant, Ruth appeared, uncredited, as a beauty queen in the Rank film Lady Godiva Rides Again.
Her long-time friend Diana Dors who was starring in the film and is said to have gotten Ruth the part.
Ruth gave birth to a daughter who she named Georgina, but George Ellis refused to acknowledge paternity of the baby and they separated shortly afterwards.
Ruth moved herself and her daughter in her parents who were already caring for her son and once again she went back to prostitution, by now this was the only work that Ruth knew, or thought she was capable of.

And so, Ruth’s life downward spiral continued
In 1953, Ruth became the manager of one of London numerous sleazy nightclubs The Little Club.
Whilst managing The Little Club Ruth was often lavished with expensive gifts by admirers, and supposedly had numerous celebrity friends.
But it is here at The Little Club that she disastrously met racing driver David Blakely, three years her junior, Blakely was a well-mannered former public-school boy, but also a hard-violent drinker.
Within weeks Blakley had moved into Ruth’s flat above the club, this regardless of him being engaged to another woman, a Miss Mary Dawson.

Ruth became pregnant for the fourth time and once again aborted the child, feeling she could not reciprocate the level of commitment shown by Blakely towards their relationship as she had already taken another lover a former bomber pilot named Desmond Cussen, who supposedly wanted to marry her.
This Ménage à trois provoked fierce jealousy on all sides often resulting in drunken heated rows between Ruth and Blakely.

Ruth was frequently seen severely bruised and in March 1955, pregnant once again, Ruth miscarriage the baby after being viciously beaten once more by Blakely.

Ruth by this time was seemingly giving Blakley most of the money she earnt working as a prostitute, Blakley was therefore living of immoral earnings, which was a criminal offence.

Ruth became both physically and mentally unwell at this time and
because of her association and lifestyle with Blakley she lost her job, and with it her flat.

Desmond Cussen, stepped in and gave Ruth a place to live and it appears it was now that he began to plan ways of getting and keeping Blakely out of Ruth’s life, so he could have Ruth to himself.

Being aware of Ruth’s delicate and fragile state of mind should Desmond Cussen rasoning behind not only finding the time to teach Ruth how to use it a gun that he had in his possession but he also chose to give it to her…….

So, in a pique of jealousy and rejection on Easter Sunday afternoon 10th April 1955, Ellis took a taxi from Cussen’s home to a second floor flat at 29 Tanza Road, Hampstead, the home of Anthony and Carole Findlater, where Ruth knew Blakely had gone.

As she arrived, Blakely’s car drove off, so she paid off the taxi she was in and walked the quarter mile to the Magdala Public House Hampstead, where she found Blakely’s car parked outside.

Ruth waited for Blakley in the doorway of the Henshaw News

Agent shop next-door to the Magdala Public House.

Blakely passed Ruth when he came out to his car but chose to ignore her when she said “Hello, David,” Ruth then allegedly shouted “David! “it is now that she fired the first shot using the 38 calibre Smith & Wesson revolver that Cussen had not only taught her how to use but also given to her, Ruth then pursued Blakely round the car firing a second shot, which caused him to collapse onto the pavement.

Ruth then allegedly stood over Blakely and emptied the remaining four bullets into him, as he lay wounded on the ground.

At least one bullet was fired from point blank range and left the tell-tale powder burns on Blakely’s skin.

During this commotion drinkers came out of the Magdala Public House. to see what was happening and Ruth was arrested by an off-duty policeman, Alan Thompson, Ruth was found immobile holding the smoking gun.
Ruth was taken to Hampstead police station where it is reported that she appeared to be calm and not noticeably under the influence of drink or drugs.
However, from the moment of her arrest, Ruth was questioned only by men: policemen, solicitors and barristers.

It is difficult to escape the assumption that they all allowed themselves to be swayed by class prejudice — the fact she was a former nightclub hostess……

While the man she had murdered was from a well-respected and wealthy family.

Cussen was interviewed by the police after the murder, as he was the last person to see Ruth before she killed Blakely.

Cussen however, chose not to enlighten the police with the knowledge that it was he who had not only given Ruth the gun, but also taught her how to use it —


Whilst awaiting trail Ruth gained several pounds in weight, undoubtedly because for the first time in her life eating a proper diet.

Whilst being held on remand in prison Ruth’s blonde hair faded and she was reportedly desperate to dye it, so she would not appear in court with dark roots.

Her defence team were uncomfortable about her hair choice, sensing that her bleached hair would only encourage the jury to view her with disdain.

Even Ruth’s defence team were conscious that she was being judged by class prejudice.

Ruth is reported to have cried only once after her arrest— when she asked for, and was given, photographs of Blakely’s corpse.


Ruth’s outward calm masked her inner turmoil. Notes by the prison doctor record that she was ‘extremely distraught with regards to her children’s future…  And ‘deeply regrets that she won’t be able to see them grow up’.

On 20 June 1955, Ellis appeared in the Number One Court at the Old Bailey, London, before Mr Justice Havers and a jury of her piers of twelve men.

As Ruth was lead from the cells dressed in a black two-piece suit and white silk blouse with her recently bleached and coiffured blonde hair. a shout came from the public gallery “Blonde Tart”


Upon being asked by the Prosecution “When you fired the revolver at such close range into the body of David Blakely, what did you intend to do?”

Ruth relied,

 “It’s obvious when I shot him I intended to kill him”.

When the jury retired to deliberate it was no surprise that they found Ruth guilty after deliberating for only 23 minutes.

It was hard to see how any other verdict was possible.

Today it seems clear that, driven to the edge of insanity by her ill- treatment both physically and mentally at the hands of Blakely, she was undoubtedly suffering from post- traumatic stress.

But in 1955 PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder did not exist.

Nor did the defence of diminished responsibility, which would almost certainly have saved Ruth from the hangman’s noose.

She was systematically beaten and abused by every single man in her short often frightening and always lonely life before finally cracking and shooting dead her faithless, violent lover David Blakely.

Ruth Ellis was tragically a woman of her times…

Until next time

Zelda x