Everybody knows the scene; it’s iconic. Little Danny Torrance is cruising on his tricycle through the corridors of the Overlook Hotel. Then, unexpectedly, he’s stopped by the appearance of the Grady sisters. Everything about them is unsettling, from their robin’s egg blue frocks and black Mary Jane shoes, to their ghostly entreaty to “Come and play with us...” I'm creeped-out just writing about it. Nevertheless, this episode’s subjects- June and Jennifer Gibbons, Christine and Léa Papin, and Ursula and Sabina Eriksson-could give those girls a run for their money!
First, are June and Jennifer Gibbons. These British sisters became selective mutes after being tormented by primary-school bullies. Subsequently, they disengaged from their parents and siblings, too, and further separated themselves by speaking to each other using a made-up language. As teenagers, June and Jennifer became engrossed by a sadistic fantasy world played-out with dolls. They chronicled their escapades in numerous radio plays, short stories, and multi-chapter novels. After embarking on a petty-crime spree, the sisters were condemned to England’s notorious Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.
French sisters Christine and Léa Papin worked as maids before slaughtering their employer’s spouse and daughter made them celebrities. The barbarous nature of the crime and rumors of incest, made the siblings’ trial a national preoccupation. Even today, the Papin's mystique inspires authors, playwrights, and film-makers.
Listen to “Twisted Sisters” to hear the tragic ending of Ursula and Sabina Eriksson’s story, and learn more about the Gibbons and Papin sisters.
June and Jennifer Gibbons:
Bound Together in Fantasy and Crime
The Silent Twins
The tragedy of a double life
We Two Made One
Christine and Léa Papin:
True Crime: The Maids vs. the Intellectuals
Murderous Maids: The Scandalous Crimes of the Papin Sisters
Ursula and Sabina Eriksson:
Complete BBC documentary, “'Madness in the Fast Lane”
Motorway dash woman stabbed man (BBC news article)
The History Bitch
Podcaster, tea aficionado, Anglophile, 'Game of Thrones' enthusiast.