Newes from the Dead

Mary Hooper

Roaring Brook Press

"Intriguing and captivating."—Celia Rees, author of Witch Child
Anne can't move a muscle, can't open her eyes, can't scream. She lies immobile in the darkness, unsure if she'd dead, terrified she's buried alive, haunted by her final memory—of being hanged. A maidservant falsely accused of infanticide in 1650 England and sent to the scaffold, Anne Green is trapped with her racing thoughts, her burning need to revisit the events—and the man—that led her to the gallows.
Meanwhile, a shy 18-year-old medical student attends his first dissection and notices something strange as the doctors prepare their tools . . . Did her eyelids just flutter? Could this corpse be alive?
Beautifully written, impossible to put down, and meticulously researched, Newes from the Dead is based on the true story of the real Anne Green, a servant who survived a hanging to awaken on the dissection table. Newes from the Dead concludes with scans of the original 1651 document that recounts this chilling medical phenomenon.
Newes from the Dead is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


It is very dark when I wake. This isn’t frightening in itself, because most of the year I rise in darkness, Sir Thomas insisting that as much of the house as possible be put in order before any of the family is about. It is the quality of the darkness that is strange; blacker than black, soft and close about me.


I go to turn my head toward the window, to see if any streaks of light can be seen in the sky, but my head doesn’t move! I try again, and again. I lift my hand—or try to—but it doesn’t want to obey me e



  • Newes From the Dead - Book Trailer

    A book trailer for Newes From the Dead, a mystery novel from Mary Hooper.



Praise for Newes from the Dead

"Intriguing and captivating."—Celia Rees
"A chilling, mesmerizing read."—Kirkus Reviews
"A grabber of a premise."—School Library Journal
“A historical mystery that is creepy in the best Edgar Allen Poe tradition, as well as thought-provoking."—Booklist
"First-rate ... Anne's story, handled with skill and passion, will be hard for anyone to put down."—The Times (UK)
"A well researched, riveting read."—Horn Book Magazine
Kirkus Reviews, Featured in Mysteries and Thrillers Special
Imagine being convicted of murder. Imagine going to the gallows. Imagine the rope around your neck, strangling you. Then... imagine coming back to life on the dissecting table. In 1650, all of this happened to housemaid Anne Green. “Writers always have their antennae twitching in the hopes that they’ll hear something they can turn into a book,” says Mary Hooper of Newes From the Dead, “so when I heard Anne Green’s story on the car radio I was absolutely captivated. I went straight home to find out more about her...I immersed myself in the facts then sat down at my computer. I pictured her in her coffin; I felt I knew what she would want to say. My fingers began to fly across the keys.” A chilling, mesmerizing read.
The Horn Book Magazine
A primal human fear is being in a dark, cramped space, unable to move, with no means of escape. This novel, based on a true story, takes readers into just such a nightmare. In 1650 Oxford, England, a young woman named Anne Green, a servant in the household of Sir Thomas Reade, was convicted of murdering her stillborn child and was hanged. She did not die, but gradually regained consciousness in her coffin while men from the medical college prepared for her dissection. Anne’s narrative reconstructs the events that have brought her to her present condition. In alternate chapters, the events of the impending dissection are told by Robert Matthews, a young medical student afflicted with stuttering. He sees the first faint eye movement but is unable to articulate his concerns.
     Hooper has created two distinct, authentic voices that flow in parallel stories, building to new awakenings and knowledge. Anne’s strong, passionate account reveals life in the mid-seventeenth century, contrasting her position as a servant to that of the elite Reade family... A well-researched, riveting read, with an author’s note explaining how Anne could survive being hanged and an extensive bibliography.

“Newes from the Dead” was the name of a pamphlet that circulated in England in 1650 after a teenage housemaid, hanged for the crime of infanticide, awoke on the dissecting table. Hooper uses this case as the basis for a historical mystery that is creepy in the best Edgar Allen Poe tradition, as well as thought-provoking about sexual harassment and abuse. The story opens in a coffin, as the reader listens in on poor Anne’s frantic coming-to-terms with where she is and how she got there: her days as a servant, her seduction by a young lord, the accusation of murder. Anne’s thoughts, from coffin to dissecting table, are juxtaposed with a third-person narrative, centering on a nervous young surgeon who is on hand to witness and assist in the young woman’s dissection. Hooper explains that surgeons were allowed to conduct autopsies on criminals, and it's just such intriguing tidbits of Cromwellian history that add heft to this suspenseful novel.

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Mary Hooper

  • MARY HOOPER says, "When I heard Anne Green's story on the car radio, I was absolutely captivated. I went straight home to find out more about her. What a story hers was: she gave birth in the most primitive conditions, then was thrown into a freezing, stinking prison and, later, sentenced to death. She said a said farewell to her family, climbed the scaffold, and then . . . what? Anne was 'dead' for several hours. Where did she go? I immersed myself in the facts, then sat down at my computer. I pictured her in her coffin; I felt I knew what she would want to say. My fingers began to fly across the keys . . ." Mary Hooper has written more than 60 books for children and young adults, earning high praise as well as the North East Book Award for her YA novel, Megan. She has two grown children and lives with her husband Richard in Oxfordshire, England, the same area Anne Green came from. 
  • Mary Hooper
    Mary Hooper


Available Formats and Book Details

Newes from the Dead

Mary Hooper

Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens, USBBY Outstanding International Book, NYPL Stuff for the Teen Age, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year


Roaring Brook Press