Nancy Roman

Winning Lizzie

A few days ago, I asked for your interpretive suggestions for my cryptic note, “Lizzie Borden Mugshot”.

You certainly had some creative ideas – none of which reminded me of what I meant when I wrote those words. It appears I have permanent Lizzie amnesia.

However, you did prove to me that you all know me very well, since most of you thought that I must have wanted to write about hair, makeup, or fashion.

And the very best of your ideas is truly inspirational.  It’s “Bring Back The Bun” by DefiningMotherhood.  DM wins the Lizzie Grand Prize – which is a link and a reprint. (Not much, I know, so please at least give her a click.)


Bring Back The Bun

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty one

I can’t help but think of her today
As I try to put my hair away
On top my head in a basic bun
Just think of all I could get done

I could grocery shop and mop my floor
Remove sticky fingerprints from the door
I could tackle the growing laundry pile
Put on my sneakers and jog a mile

When I finish all I need to get done
My hair will still be in that trusty bun
Just look at the pictures of Lizzie Borden’s face
She killed her parents without a hair out of place


Oh, this is SO ME!

Although I don’t know what I meant, I sure know how I FEEL.

Poor Lizzie.

This is her actual mugshot.

Lizzie wasn’t arrested right after the murders. It’s not like she was brought in covered in blood and foaming at the mouth. But still…

She’s gorgeous.

And yet, as I researched various websites to try to understand why I wrote that note, everyone writing about her seems to find her homely. Or at best, plain.

But this is a MUGSHOT!

Taken in August 1892.

August. No air conditioning.

When I took my last self-portrait, I added a super volumizer to my hair, applied two coats of makeup, and changed my clothes three times. then I took about sixty frames under all kinds of different lighting and exposures. And I found one decent picture.

Lizzie got one take with a police photographer with an 1892 camera. With no makeup, no hairstylist, and a high collar and a corset on a summer day. She’s wearing more underneath her dress than you wear to shovel snow in February.

If you think she’s homely, please open your wallet and take a gander at your driver’s license photo.

I rest Lizzie’s case.


  1. I don’t think she was homely at all. And I am quite impressed by her mugshot. Also, by the poem!


  2. she looks like she’s sitting for her portrait!


  3. Fantastic!


  4. That is certainly a different perspective on her. In that outfit on a hot summer day, I am sure there would be times I want to take drastic action.


  5. Homely? Really, no I am with you on this one. She is quite fetching really. Since my normal wear, all seasons, is yoga pants and a tea shirt I believe I would have been homicidal with all she had to do to dress.

    The poem is quite wonderful. The bun though, no don’t bring it back please even in your dreams. It isn’t all that flattering.


    • I tend to think that hairdos stayed in place back then because folks didn’t wash it much.


  6. Oh that drivers license is too funny! I have a feeling that, one day you’ll remember why you jotted down that note. And I’m sure you won’t be able to wait to share it with us! I just hope that, after this post, it isn’t anti-climactic.


  7. Considering no makeup etc., Lizzie looks pretty good, especially since it’s August and she can’t breathe in that corset!


  8. I agree, I love that photo! I imagine her, then, sitting primly in a jail cell, with the corset and all of those petticoats and layers, waiting for trial. Perhaps she got off because they thought she had suffered enough. Thanks!


    • I’ve read from several sources that she was acquitted mainly because the people of that time could not imagine that a woman could do such a thing.


  9. Today’s celebrities could learn a few things from Lizzie’s mug shot.


  10. she looks so calm in her mugshot. and i think “bring back the bun” could be some sort of movement like occupy wallstreet.


  11. Enjoyed the poem. Hope this has brought you at least of measure of closer.


  12. Lizzie looked way better than Tom Delay did in HIS mugshot.

    Great poem!


    • Tom Delay looked crazy insane. Lizzie looks very sane. Don’t know what that tells you, exactly.


      • Perhaps only that appearances can be deceiving. Then again, they didn’t really have any evidence against Lizzie as I recall. Delay, not quite the same story!


        • Good point. I guess the main evidence against Lizzie was the fact that she tried to buy poison the day before. Not even admissible, I don’t think – but interesting.


          • I’m afraid that, apart from your post, the only info I have on Lizzie is from a film with Bewitched actress Elizabeth Montgomery starring as Lizzie. Samantha could not have murdered Esmeralda or Maurice, so I was convinced that Lizzie Borden did not, in fact, murder her parents.


  13. I recommend the Fall River Historical Society’s “Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River”. It is the now the most preminent book on Lizzie – indeed, the say all, know all,, go to book. It’s a massive work….7 pounds, over 1,000 pages, 500 plus photos including 5 new ones never seen before of Lizzie. She is not the maniacal, axe wielding psychopath so often depicted. She was a kindly soul, she was acquitted. Anybody really interested in the truth instead of the legends that loom so large, will read this book. Faye Musselman


    • Thanks, Faye. I wrote my post on Lizzie in my typically silly way, but then I got to thinking about her, and I found your blog. Lizzie is fascinating, and your blog is terrific. And thanks for confirming her ‘mugshot’ for me.


  14. I just love your stuff! And you have talented reader, too.


    • I love my readers’ comments. They are so clever they make my blog seem much better than it is.


  15. Very interesting. My mother used to tell me, when she didn’t like my “look”, that I looked like Who Shot Lizzy. Now I know that was a complement. I can’t wait to share this with her. 🙂


  16. I agree! She looks pretty good to me 🙂 I also agree that you have one lovely blog here. So I’ve nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog Award”! Congrats! 🙂


  17. Chris

    Now that I think about it, you were probably thinking that you could put your hair up for your Zumba class, but your hair is too short.


  18. JSD

    I think she has lovely eyes! Great poem!



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