The Polly Button Book Project

The stunningly designed and best-selling true crime book The Undoing of Polly Button has been five years in the making. It tells the story of the tragic life and bloody murder of Mary Green (commonly known as Polly Button).

“An exceptionally well researched and written book. The historical context sets the scene perfectly for the events that follow. Beautifully presented, the illustrations, maps and charts add to and support the fascinating story. Highly recommended.”
– Helen Beeston

The meticulous research that was undertaken for the book has produced a unique and desperately sad account of the crushing effects that the Industrial Revolution had on one individual and the community she lived in. The book, extensively referenced and fully indexed, benefits from colour illustration throughout including newly commissioned works from leading American and UK-based artists. Ken Loach, the international award-winning film director, has endorsed the book as ‘a terrific story’. Reader response to the book has been extremely positive, being rated 4.83 out of 5 on and 5 stars on Amazon in its launch year.

“Greetings from Hong Kong. I have just completed reading The Undoing of Polly Button and thoroughly enjoyed it. The historical background on Nuneaton and the struggles townsfolk endured was enlightening. Thank you, I can only imagine the amount of work and research put in to write such a detailed account.”
– Adrian Taylor

A unique element of the project is that the author has traced more than 1,000 living descendants of Polly Button through her five surviving children and begun to contact and connect them using social media. It has resulted in the creation of a Facebook group for descendants and a series of arranged ‘Gatherings’ that have included direct descendants of John Danks, the murderer.

“I bought this book to take on holiday with me three weeks ago, and I have to say it is a brilliant read. Well thought out. Excellent factual content with lots of background information. Very well written and presented. It has to be one of the best books to read, and a local story as well. Loved it…”
– Kit Parker

All author profits are being donated to three charities and good causes: Nuneaton Women’s Refuge, Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre and Nuneaton Memories.

Polly Button’s Story

The book provides a comprehensive, fascinating and shocking account of the background to the murder at both a personal and community level.

After being seduced by the youngest son of one of the wealthiest men in the town – who then refused to marry her – Polly Button’s life followed an increasingly desperate and downward spiral that was made worse by the calamitous collapse in the predominant weaving industry of her home town. Nuneaton was catastrophically affected – more so than any other weaving community in the country – by the twin icy blasts of free trade and rapid industrialisation. Press reports at the time suggested that she had resorted to prostitution, an all too common occurrence in the face of the desperate conditions brought about by severe social and economic upheaval.

“Really well researched, well written & interesting book. I love the fact that the oppressed life of poor, wretched Polly now counts.”
– Vivien Proctor-Parr

Polly Button bore five illegitimate children by five different men and was eight months pregnant again by when she was murdered by John Danks, who had fathered her fifth child, Jane. Danks was arrested soon after the murder and was found guilty in the subsequent trial at Warwick Crown Court. He was hanged in public on 2 April 1832 and his body taken for dissection at Birmingham Medical School, which took place over a series of four lectures in front of both medical students and members of the public. The circumstances of the murder of Polly Button resulted in the case being cited in major national and international textbooks on forensic medicine.

“What a fascinating book! So much historical background too. Well done – this story is amazing.”
– Janie Jay

Read the First Chapter

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