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A Queer Little Book

Bella is based on a real historical event, which over the years has become mythologized. All that we know for certain is as follows. In 1943 four boys discovered a woman’s skeletal remains, wedged inside the hollow trunk of a wych elm in Hagley Wood. Some time later messages began to appear in the local area, written in chalk. Over and over they posed the same question: Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? This is the compost from which the novel derives its nourishment. Like the graffito in Goulston Street associated with one of the Jack the Ripper murders, the messages (written by the same hand) might have been left by the murderer or, as is more likely, by a hoaxer. Nevertheless, they introduce

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