The Devil in the White City

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Devil in the White City
DWCity.jpg
Cover of The Devil in the White City
Author Erik Larson
Country United States
Language English
Genre History, Historical Fiction
Publisher Crown Publishers
Publication date
2003
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 447
ISBN 0-609-60844-4
OCLC 54397544

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Crown Publishers, ISBN 0-609-60844-4) is a 2003 historical non-fiction book by Erik Larson presented in a novelistic style. The book is based on real characters and events. It tells the story of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago from the viewpoint of the designers, including Daniel Burnham, and also tells the story of H. H. Holmes, a criminal figure in that same time.

Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights in 2010.[1]

Plot[edit]

The book is set in Chicago in 1893, interweaving the true tales of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect behind the 1893 World's Fair, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, pharmacist and serial killer who lured his victims to their deaths in his elaborately constructed "Murder Castle". The Devil in the White City is divided into four parts, the first three happening in Chicago between 1890-1893. Part four of the book takes place in Philadelphia circa 1895. The story of Daniel Burnham, his building of the fair and the struggles he overcomes forms one plot line. The other, vividly different plot line is that of H.H. Holmes, a mentally unstable pharmacist/doctor who forms a plan to use an abandoned lot across from his pharmacy to lure in and kill multiple victims.

Burnham and the architects[edit]

Holmes and associates[edit]

1895 newspaper image of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
  • Herman Webster Mudgett (aka Dr. H. H. Holmes): a serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their deaths. Dr. Holmes had built his "World's Fair Hotel" complete with a gas chamber, dissection table, and a crematorium to dispose of the bodies. Holmes would have the skeletons of his victims removed and sell them for medical and scientific study.
  • Clara A. Lovering: Holmes's first wife
  • Myrta Z. Belknap: Holmes's second wife
  • Lucy Holmes: Holmes's daughter with Myrta
  • Georgiana Yoke: Holmes's third wife
  • Julia Smythe: employee and lover of Holmes; wife of Ned Connor
  • Ned Connor: employee of Holmes; husband of Julia Smythe
  • Emeline Cigrand: fiancée (and murder victim) of Holmes
  • Benjamin Pietzel: business associate (and murder victim) of Holmes
  • Carrie Pietzel: wife of Benjamin Pietzel
  • Howard, Nellie and Alice Pietzel: son and two daughters (respectively) of Benjamin and Carrie Pietzel.
  • Frank Geyer: detective in charge of finding Pietzel's children after Holmes was jailed for fraud
  • Thomas W. Barlow: assistant district attorney who prosecuted Holmes

Other figures[edit]

External media
Erik Larson 03B.jpgAuthor Erik Larson
Audio
The Devil in the White City, Weekend Edition, National Public Radio, Larson interviewed by Scott Simon, 10:01, April 5, 2003
Video
Booknotes - The Devil in the White City, C-SPAN, 58:00, September 14, 2003.

Film adaptation[edit]

Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights to the book in 2010; the movie is to be produced by Paramount Pictures, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg's Double Feature Films, and DiCaprio's own production company Appian Way Productions.[2] Writer Graham Moore was originally hired to adapt the book into a screenplay, but it was later reported that Billy Ray would be writing the script.[3] Martin Scorsese is signed to direct.[4]

Honors[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]