Nevermind the diamonds, arsenic has been a girl’s best friend for centuries. The mineral has been useful as cosmetics, fabric dye and as a component in home decorations like wallpapers, lampshades and paint. It has also proven to be gem in the war against rodents in the cupboards, and – of course – troublesome husbands.
In a time when divorce was a disgrace and/or difficult to get, arsenic was the perfect weapon of choice to end a domestic dispute. It was everywhere: in rat poison, flypaper and other useful things one kept at home. The symptoms of the poisoning were hideous though, as a body exposed to arsenic will shut down the digestion system. There will be vomiting, bloody feces – and quite a lot of pain.
Many famous people have succumbed to the poison: George III of Great Britain and Napoleon Bonaparte are just the tip of the iceberg. Arsenic is held responsible for Monét’s blindness and Van Gogh’s neurological disorders, though the latter weren’t poisoned; they just painted with the wrong kind of paint.
Poisoning in general and arsenic in particular has often been considered a woman’s method, and history is rife with incidents to support the claim. In honor of Women in Horror Month, here’s some horrific examples: