The Infamous Harry Hayward (Paperback)

A True Account of Murder and Mesmerism in Gilded Age Minneapolis

By Shawn Francis Peters

Univ Of Minnesota Press, 9781517903756, 280pp.

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

List Price: 18.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A fascinating tale of seduction, murder, fraud, coercion—and the trial of the “Minneapolis Monster”

On a winter night in 1894, a young woman’s body was found in the middle of a road near Lake Calhoun on the outskirts of Minneapolis. She had been shot through the head. The murder of Kittie Ging, a twenty-nine-year-old dressmaker, was the final act in a melodrama of seduction and betrayal, petty crimes and monstrous deeds that would obsess reporters and their readers across the nation when the man who likely arranged her killing came to trial the following spring. Shawn Francis Peters unravels that sordid, spellbinding story in his account of the trial of Harry Hayward, a serial seducer and schemer whom some deemed a “Svengali,” others a “Machiavelli,” and others a “lunatic” and “man without a soul.”

Dubbed “one of the greatest criminals the world has ever seen” by the famed detective William Pinkerton, Harry Hayward was an inveterate and cunning plotter of crimes large and small, dabbling in arson, insurance fraud, counterfeiting, and illegal gambling. His life story, told in full for the first time here, takes us into shadowy corners of the nineteenth century, including mesmerism, psychopathy, spiritualism, yellow journalism, and capital punishment. From the horrible fate of an independent young businesswoman who challenged Victorian mores to the shocking confession of Hayward on the eve of his execution (which, if true, would have made him a serial killer), The Infamous Harry Hayward unfolds a transfixing tale of one of the most notorious criminals in America during the Gilded Age.

About the Author

Shawn Francis Peters teaches in the Integrated Liberal Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has written five books, most recently The Catonsville Nine: A Story of Faith and Resistance in the Vietnam Era.

Praise For The Infamous Harry Hayward: A True Account of Murder and Mesmerism in Gilded Age Minneapolis

"The story of Harry Hayward is a portrait both of a genuinely chilling nineteenth-century killer and of a golden American city—Minneapolis in the 1800s—that provides a home to the darkness within us. Shawn Francis Peters does full justice to both light and shadow in this murderous tale."—Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

"At last, a great nonfiction storyteller has given this terrifying murderer the well-researched and vividly written treatment he deserves. The Infamous Harry Hayward places readers inside the disordered mind of a Victorian era killer—and won’t let them go."—Jack El-Hai, author of The Nazi and the Psychiatrist and The Lobotomist

"The Infamous Harry Hayward is a riveting account of a dark chapter in Minnesota history—the murder-for-hire of a dressmaker, ‘Kittie’ Ging. The 1895 trial of Harry Hayward, a Victorian Era gambler and the murder’s criminal mastermind, grabbed lurid newspaper headlines in a case that pitted one brother against another."—John Bessler, author of Legacy of Violence: Lynch Mobs and Executions in Minnesota

"The book unfolds as a play-by-play of the seven-week trial and reads much like the sensationalist reporting of the events at the time. The end result is an entertaining tale of crime and punishment from Minnesota’s gilded age and a great episode from the annals of yellow journalism."—Publishers Weekly

"Peters’ scholarly, yet accessible, prose takes readers into the shadowy corners of Minneapolis and the sinister mind of a “man without a soul”."—Isthmus

"If you’ve never heard of Harry Hayward you’ll love reading about this serial seducer, con man, gambler and crook. This nonfiction evocation of a sensational life reads like a thriller."—St. Paul Pioneer Press