Famous Last Words written by Chris Wood and published by Pen & Sword Books – £14.99 – Softcover – Pages 216

Nothing focuses the mind more starkly than impending death. Its inevitable spectre greets us all; from princes to paupers and nobility to the needy. Prepare to mount the scaffold and share in the final utterings of the condemned; join the stricken in their death beds and witness unburdened tongues wag their closing, and often remarkable confessions as deeply entrenched secrets are finally unshackled in the wake of imminent death.

‘Famous Last Words’ collects a fascinating selection of destinies culminating in their often flamboyant yet always captivating, final utterances before shuffling off this mortal coil.

Revealed inside are tales of sangfroid bravery, astonishing ironies and overdue confessions often betraying grave miscarriages of justice, throughout British history.

Writer and poet Sir Walter Raleigh had some typically forthright and urging words for his executioner as the hesitant axeman displayed fear and reluctance to perform his stately duties. Having felt the sharp edge of the tool that would presently be rained down upon him, rather than fearing his impending doom, Raleigh would offer goading encouragement to his maker.

Were the final words of convicted murderer Ernest Brown a candid confession to another killing he had committed deep in the Northumberland Moors some two years previously which had lay unsolved?

And what of Britain’s first actor to have had a knighthood bestowed upon him? Learn of the staggering irony that saw his final words on stage prophetically turn out to be his last in life…

This was a fascinating and interesting read, certainly formative and written for a wide audience. Part of me wonders how rare some of the stories or chapters were and some had probably been retold over and over again. Some of the stories I had heard of before but then that is expected probably, as there were enough that were new to me. Some of the confessions were kind of expected but some were a bit strange or odd. The book is well written and doesn’t pretend to be too gory or salacious. The book has been well researched and there was a good variety throughout time, with each chapter representing each character. A fun balanced book with something for every to get their nose into.