Her publisher announced the death of prolific novelist Anne Perry at the age of 84 on Wednesday in Los Angeles. The British author, known for her historical thrillers, the Reavley family spy saga or for her murderous Christmas tales, was translated in France in the 10-18 collection. His books have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, including 5 million in France.
But Anne Perry, real name Juliet Marion Hulme, was also famous for her involvement in the "Parker-Hulme Affair", an assassination and internationally publicized trial that rocked New Zealand in 1954. The future Anne Perry, then 15, and her friend Pauline Parker plotted the murder of Parker's mother, Honora Parker.
Juliet Hulme was born in London in 1938. She was ten years old when her father, a renowned scientist, accepted her appointment as university rector in New Zealand. Juliet, who suffered from lung infections as a child, retains a frailty. When she turned thirteen, she contracted tuberculosis. She had to leave college, and was placed in solitary confinement for three years. Only his school friend Pauline Parker passes, by daily missives, the walls of the hospital. A dense epistolary relationship develops between the young girls and allows Juliet to maintain a link with the outside world. Their friendship will be unbreakable.
When Juliet's health was deemed satisfactory to finally leave the hospital in 1954, she was discharged and learned that her family was about to break up. She discovers her devout mother in bed with a man; her father has lost his job, the couple will divorce and Juliet is told that she will be sent to an aunt in South Africa.
Juliet then offers Pauline to leave with her. But Pauline's mother is against it. In order not to be separated, the two young girls decide to eliminate the obstacle. Pauline's mother, Honora Mary Parker, died on June 22, 1954 in a park in Christchurch after being struck more than 20 times with a rock.
The country is in shock, the trial for matricide excites the press. Beyond the premeditated death and the violence of the act, right-thinking society of the 1950s gloated over the relationship of the two defendants, which they assumed to be lesbian, although Anne Perry did not agree. later defended, only to relabel it as "obsessive", as the Guardian reads.
The young age of the convicts allowed them to escape the death penalty, which was abolished for murder in New Zealand in 1961. The court sentenced them to prison. Juliet is serving 5 years. Upon her release, she changed her name, worked for a time as an air hostess, converted to Mormonism, found refuge in a Scottish village and began to write. Her first novel, The Strangler of Cater Street, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt's first investigation, appeared in 1979. Anne Perry depicts the murder and mutilation of women in Victorian England. The opus reappeared last November, still at 10-18.
The story of this murderous passionate friendship between two teenage girls has since inspired cinema and literature. The 1994 New Zealand film Heavenly Creatures, directed by Peter Jackson, is a highlight, starring Kate Winslet as Juliet. Accounts of the Parker-Hulme affair flourished in Anglo-Saxon countries: The Evil Friendship, by Marijane Meaker in 1963, Parker and Hulme: A Lesbian View, in 1991, by Julie Glamuzina and Alison J. Laurie, Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century, by Peter Graham published in 2016.
Parker and Hulme are still recognized as indirect inspirations in many novels about toxic sisterhood, such as Johana Gustawsson's latest novel, Yule Island, published in January by Calmann-Levy.
Juliet Hulme aka Anne Perry is no more, but Pauline Parker would still live in Great Britain under the name of Hilary Nathan.
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