Researching Madame Guillotine

Week 6

What did I do?

Researched Origins of the Guillotine

  • The Guillotine.
  • [VIDEO] The Guillotine
  • [VIDEO] Coroner’s Report: Guillotine
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica. Beheading (Geoffry Abbot)

Apart from being thoroughly disgusted and spooked, this was semi-helpful for my understanding of the nature of the guillotine. How I will portray this in my story will depend on the mood that I want to create in each scene. Will I give Madame Guilotine a backstory? Will she compare her victims through disccusion? Will she compare Corday to other victims?

Should I include references to her earlier models or will this be confusing? I may be able to include the development of the machine – the change of the blade’s shape – as it will have occured during Corday’s lifetime. I guess this will depend on the structure (sequence) of the story; whether it is in the present tense or a reflection of the past.

Continued to read Behr’s book

The description of Corday’s experience in acquiring a meeting with Marat, as well as her childhood and her life in Caen, has helped me greatly to envision how her life would have played out. The insight into her childhood was very helpful as it included references to her teachers’ and her aunt’s perception of her.

The description of her actions was also helpful. I now know that she put her affairs in order before she left Caen for Paris, distributing her possessions to friends and writing a letter to her father, lying to both her aunt and father as to where she was going and telling no one of what she was going to do. She knew that she would not be returning. I learnt that she was apprehended by one of Marat’s employees, who gave an account of the event himself, and that she changed her clothes, added feathers to her hat and changed hair between writing notes in order to be admitted into his home, without success. These details will hopefully aid me in writing the scene.

I also found out that she had time to write while in prison. This is major news, as it will appease my perfectionist conscience in writing the story as a reflection from a certain point in time, while she awaited execution.

Next Steps:

  • Find a copy the account of Marat’s Employer
  • Draft and write character profiles on Corday and Mme Guillotine
  • Find more sources for Corday’s trial
  • Fill in power point plan with research and update plot plan


 Behr. H. (2015). The French Revolution.Chapter 7. Sussex Aademic Press. Eastborne, England.



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