G is also for Greenacre: at the end of 1850, Dickens was sitting for his portrait with the artist William Boxhall. The picture was never finished. WP Frith said that Dickens told him: Well I sat a great deal, and the picture seemed to me to get worse – sometimes it was like Ben Caunt (an ugly pugilist), then a resemblance to Greenacre … James Greenacre, the Edgware murderer was tried for the murder and mutilation of his fiancée, Hannah Brown. He had sawn off her head which was found in Regent’s Canal; the trunk was found by a bricklayer engaged in work on some houses in Edgware Road. Hardly surprising that Dickens didn’t go back to the artist. Greenacre attempted suicide in prison. Alfred Swaine Taylor mentions the case in his Medical Jurisprudence:
The mode in which the notorious criminal, Greenacre, attempted to destroy himself by suicidal strangulation, presented some novelty … He was found lying on the floor, with a handkerchief drawn tightly around his neck by means of a loop, into which he had inserted his foot.
Some novelty – Greenacre failed in his attempt to strangle himself. The hangman did it for him at Newgate on 2nd May, 1837.