Did Lizzie Borden really pick up an ax? The real story behind the movie "Lizzie" (2023)

Warning: This post contains spoilers forGenoveva

the new movieGenoveva, starring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, examines one of the most notorious murder suspects of the 19th century. But despite the fame of her case, it remains shrouded in mystery.

In 1892, Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother after they were both found hacked to death in their home that August. Borden, whose conduct after the deaths of her parents wasthought by some to be"weird" in her lack of emotion and who was known to have a strained relationship with her family, wastaken and indicted by a grand jury. In 1893 it waspayof the murders, as the evidence presented against him was mostly circumstantial. Still, Borden became a national sensation, and his judgment, which TIME laterto describeas something bigger than that year's World's Fair, it made headlines across the country.

More than 100 years after the trial, the grisly unsolved double murder continues to arouse great interest. Thanks to a spooky schoolyardpoemLizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 blows...– his name is still much better known than the actual facts of what happened. Borden's story has been the source material for musicals, a Lifetime miniseries and now a movie, opening Sept. 14, portraying the mysterious woman as a victim of patriarchy. Borden may be remembered in connection with her parents' bloody demise, but inGenoveva, it is the men who are perpetuating the violence. Lizzie's father, Andrew Borden, is shown to be a controlling and cruel man whose actions range from the maddening, such as restricting his daughters' independence, to the vile: he repeatedly sexually assaults Bridget Sullivan, the family's maid.

With an affinity for animals, a zeal for music, and a growing affection for Sullivan, La Borden de Sevigny comes across as a kind, awkward woman dealing with the fact that the men in her life will only hold her back. AsGenovevaaccount, Borden and Sullivan have an affair and orchestrate the bloody murders of Andrew and Abby Borden as an act of self-liberation.

a lot ofGenovevais based on unfounded rumors about Lizzie Borden, which have only grown since she was acquitted. Here's what's real and what's fictional in the movie.

(Video) The Truth About Lizzie Borden

Fiction: Andrew Borden killed his daughter's pet birds with an ax

It's not just humans who face an ax inGenoveva. One particularly disturbing scene shows Borden's father, in a fit of rage, decapitating his beloved pet pigeons, leaving her distraught. The film takes up a popular theory about the Borden murders, which claims that Andrew Borden killing the pigeons was part of what drove Lizzie Borden to kill him.

This theory is difficult to prove. Andrew Borden did, in fact, kill pigeons that the family kept, according to Lizzie Borden's research.statement. But Borden said he "wrung their necks". She, at least in the statement, did not seem particularly concerned about the fate of pigeons, which are described less as pets and more as livestock. Based on the inquest statement, it appears that Borden did not kill the pigeons out of spite for his daughter.

Did Lizzie Borden really pick up an ax? The real story behind the movie "Lizzie" (1)

In June 1893, Lizzie Borden was tried and later acquitted for killing her father and stepmother with an axe.

Bettmann/fake pictures

(Video) Did Lizzie Borden Axe Murder Her Parents??! #Crimetober

Fact: The Bordens were rich but still worried about money

Andrew Borden was a wealthy businessman and the family estate wasworththe equivalent of approximately$8.3 million. But Borden, as shown in the film, was incredibly frugal and kept his daughters out of big financial issues. Lizzie Borden's uncle, John Morse, is shown coming to meet with Andrew Borden about inheriting the estate. In real life, Morse arrived shortly before the murders to discuss business matters with the Borden patriarch. Borden was also known for keeping a tight hand on the family purse strings.

Fiction: Lizzie Borden called Bridget Sullivan by her real name

EmGenoveva, Andrew Borden and his wife disrespectfully call the maid, Bridget Sullivan, by the name of a previous employee, Maggie. It is Lizzie Borden who uses Sullivan's real name when addressing her, a sign that she sees her as an equal.

In real life, Sullivan was referred to as Maggie by the entire Borden family, including Lizzie and her sister Emma, ​​who was not home at the time of the murders.employee testimonial. “At home, Miss Emma and Miss Lizzie sometimes called me Maggie,” Sullivan said in her deposition. She later added that after Borden discovered her father's body, she yelled, "Maggie, come quick!"

Not clear: Lizzie Borden was gay

Another guess about Lizzie Borden has to do with her sexuality, a theory that becomes a central point inGenoveva. It's unclear whether Borden actually had an affair with Bridget Sullivan; some surmised that Abby Borden caught the two together, prompting Lizzie Borden to kill her. Others said Andrew Borden was the one who caught them.

This theory is rooted in conjecture. many people haveindicatedBorden's real-life friendship with actor Nance O'Neil, with whom she had a particularly close relationship that her sister disapproved of, as evidence that Borden was a lesbian; the public nature of the friendship between O'Neil and Borden meant that such gossip circulated during their lifetimes, according to oneaccountFrom The Life of O'Neil by Jennifer Jones Cavenaugh. On the other hand, Borden was an infamous figure and an unmarried woman, something that could have subjected any woman of the time to further scrutiny, and no definitive evidence exists one way or the other.

Fact: Bridget Sullivan was cleaning windows on the day of the murders

Bridget Sullivan is an accessory to murder inGenoveva, although the real-life Sullivan was not a murder suspect. As seen in the film, Sullivan is outside washing windows during the first murder, and it's clear that she knows what's going on. In fact, Sullivan had just finished washing the windows and was resting in her room when she heard Lizzie Borden scream that Andrew Borden was dead, according to her.a testimony.

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(Video) History's Mysteries The Strange Case Of Lizzie Borden (History Channel Documentary)

(Video) "Lizzie Borden Took an Axe" | Full Episode

Not clear: Lizzie Borden suffered seizures

EmGenoveva, Lizzie Borden suffers frequent epileptic seizures, which increases her isolation. Some theorists eager to unravel the mystery of the Borden murders have turned to the idea that Lizzie Borden suffered from epilepsy and was having a seizure when she committed the first murder. While the film does not imply that Borden was having an epileptic fit when she killed her stepmother, it does show how the seizures had a detrimental effect on her. Whether Borden actually had epilepsy has not been proven.

Fact: The Bordens didn't always get along

AsGenovevareveals, Lizzie Borden, in her search for a better life outside her family home, frequently clashed with her father and stepmother. In real life, it appears that Borden was close with her father, although he prevented her from having a life of her own, but she did.acrimonious relationship with Abby Borden, your stepmother. Sullivan in her deposition said that the dynamic between Abby Borden and her stepdaughter was strained.

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(Video) Reopening the Lizzie Borden Case: New Evidence and Theories


How factual is the movie Lizzie? ›

It is based on the true story of Lizzie Borden, who was accused and acquitted of the axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892. Sevigny also served as a co-producer.

How many whacks did Lizzie actually give? ›

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

Did Lizzie Borden have an axe poem? ›

Despite Lizzie Borden's acquittal, the cloud of suspicion that hung over her never disappeared. She is immortalized in a famous rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one.

What evidence did they have against Lizzie? ›

Russell told grand jurors that she had witnessed Lizzie Borden burning a blue dress in a kitchen fire allegedly because, as Lizzie explained her action, it was covered with "old paint." Coupled with the earlier testimony from Bridget Sullivan that Lizzie was wearing a blue dress on the morning of the murders, the ...

How did Lizzie Borden get caught? ›

But during the interrogation, Lizzie's answers to different police officers shifted. And her inability to summon a single tear aroused police suspicion. Then an officer discovered that Lizzie had tried to purchase deadly prussic acid a day before the murders in a nearby drugstore.

Did Lizzie Borden get her inheritance? ›

After she was acquitted, Lizzie Borden and her sister inherited a fortune. After Borden was acquitted of the murders, she and Emma inherited their father's considerable fortune, which was said to be worth more than $8 million in today's money.

What is the mystery of Lizzie Borden? ›

On August 4, 1892, wealthy businessman Andrew Borden, and his wife, Abby, were brutally hacked to death in their home. Andrew's 32-year-old spinster daughter, Lizzie, was arrested for the double murder. Over a century later, the scene of one of the most gruesome unsolved mysteries in U.S. history is open for business.

Who found the Bordens bodies? ›

Lizzie claimed to have discovered the body of her father about 30 minutes after he came home from his morning errands. Shortly after, the maid, Bridget Sullivan, found the body of Lizzie's stepmother.

Why did Lizzie Borden burn a dress? ›

Inside the Borden Home

The day after Andrew and Abby's funeral, Lizzie was seen burning a dress in this kitchen. Lizzie said she burned it because there was paint on it.

Who is Lizzie serial killer? ›

Lizzie Halliday (c. 1859 – June 28, 1918, born Eliza Margaret McNally) was an Irish-American serial killer responsible for the deaths of four people in upstate New York during the 1890s. In 1894, she became the first woman to be sentenced to death by the electric chair.

Who owns the Lizzie Borden house now? ›

It has operated as a bed and breakfast since 1996 under the ownership of Martha McGinn who inherited the house. Martha's grandparents purchased the house on August 4, 1948.

Who lives in the Lizzie Borden House now? ›

Lance Zaal of US Ghost Adventures bought the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River in 2021. It still operates as a bed and breakfast and offers tours as well. If you dare, book a room, and spend the night. Or you may just want to take a historical ghost tour.

Did Elizabeth Montgomery know she was related to Lizzie Borden? ›

An interesting fact (although she did not know it) is actress Elizabeth Montgomery was a distant cousin of Lizzie Borden herself!

Did Lizzie Borden have an alibi? ›

What's more, while her older sister Emma was miles away visiting friends at the time of the murders, Lizzie Borden was at home with no credible alibi. The investigation revealed that, on the day before the murders, a woman identified as Lizzie reportedly tried to buy prussic acid to repair, she said, a sealskin cape.

Was Elizabeth Montgomery related to Lizzie Borden? ›

An interesting fact (although she did not know it) is actress Elizabeth Montgomery was a distant cousin of Lizzie Borden herself! Genealogy research by Rhonda McClure reveals both Elizabeth Montgomery and Lizzie Borden were descendants of 17th century John Luther of Massachusetts making them 6th cousins once removed.

Where was Lizzie during the murders? ›

The only serious suspect was Andrew's 32-year-old unmarried daughter, Lizzie, who was at the house during the killings.

Did Lizzie Borden ever marry? ›

Despite her position, Lizzie remained unmarried. There are many reasons given for this. First, she was not a great beauty--some, unfairly perhaps, called her homely. Second, she resented her father and the fact that she was not allowed the great benefits of being well-to-do.

Did Elizabeth Montgomery have any children in real life? ›

Live Wire: Children of 'Bewitched' actress Elizabeth Montgomery also in show business. A: She actually had a daughter and two sons, all with William Asher, her third husband. All worked in show business, but behind the scenes.

Who owns the Lizzie Borden House? ›

The house was listed for sale in 2021 and was sold to Lance Zaal for $2 million. Zaal stated he would keep the property operating as a bed-and-breakfast and hoped to expand the business to include other Lizzie-Borden-themed activities in the future.

What ethnicity was Elizabeth Montgomery? ›

Montgomery was of Irish and Scottish descent. Her great-grandfather, Archibald Montgomery, was born in Belfast and he emigrated to the United States in 1849.

What mental illness did the Borden family have? ›

Claimed by the Lizzie Borden Society, “Bipolar disorder is often hereditary, and it is likely that Lizzie also suffered from it, from all accounts of her personality.

How old was Lizzie Borden when she died? ›


1. Lizzie Borden: A Real-Life Axe Murderer
2. Overnight in Axe Murderer's House (Lizzie Borden Hauntings)
(Sam and Colby)
3. "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" (1975) Starring Elizabeth Montgomery
(LionHeart FilmWorks)
4. Did Lizzie Borden Kill her parents?
(Ricardo Rebelo)
5. Lizzie Borden House: Inside the Double Ax Murder Crime Scene, Plus More Crime Locations | Court TV
(The List Show TV)
6. The Lizzie Borden Murders [Episode 6]
(The Coder Files)
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