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Dennis Nilsen: 'The History of a Drowning Boy' is a two volume autobiography written between 1988-89, five years after his life sentence (later whole life sentence) for six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, although he'd later confess to fifteen murders, many of which are still being discovered today. In 2003, a UK High Court and the Home Secretary David Blunkett declared that Nilsen's autobiography must never be published, as it infringes the Obscene Publications Act, even though yet "not publishing it" also infringes his human rights. Read more.
Nilsen described his reason to write an autobiography as "I have spent almost nine years in a climate of long and detailed introspection, without counselling or therapy of any positive kind. Therefore it has fallen on me to prove the secret recesses of my personality in the hope that I may understand the engine of my actions and effect solutions to problems in a non-destructive way".
There are three known copies of the full first draft of his 'The History of a Drowning Boy': one with his friend Mark, a second with the cult gay writer P-P Hartnett and a third to his solicitor. That said, Brian Masters interviewed Dennis Nilsen exhaustively for his book 'Killing for Company'. Read a full psychological profile of Dennis Nilsen.
O J Simpson: '(If) I Did It - Confessions of the Killer' is a slightly tasteless, shamelessly lurid but basically little more than a desperate cash-grab by O J Simpson and ReganBooks, in which Simpson (or more accurately ghost writer Pablo Fenjves and journalist Dominick Dunne) hypothesise over who could have murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, given that Simpson was "acquitted" by a US Court in 1995. Essentially '(If) I Did It' is a pretty stupid title as, two years later, O J Simpson was found unanimously guilty of the wrongful death of Nicole Simpson in a civil suit. So really the title should read 'Yes, I Did It.... Now Give Me Your Cash'.
Ian Brady: 'The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis' is a semi-autobiographical analysis of the mind of a serial killer written by Moors Murderer Ian Brady, in 2001, during his incarceration at Ashworth Psychiatric prison. Although convicted murderers are banned from distributing or publishing any memoirs, The Gates of Janus was published by Feral House, an underground US publisher (outside the UK/EU jurisdiction), which sparked outrage when it was announced in Britain, as Brady remains one of Britain's most hated killers.
Simpson would later comment: "Hey, they offered me $600,000 not to dispute that I [wrote] the book", and even though he knew people would think he wrote it, "Everybody thinks I'm a murderer anyway. They're not going to change their mind just because of a book". Although Pablo Fenjves claims the book is "based on extensive discussions with Simpson". You can buy it via Amazon.
But if you're looking for a "this is how and why I did it", you'll be sadly disappointed, as it's rather waffley and Brady as an author is a bit "up his own arse". That said, Brady's proceeds from the sale of this book were split between four charities, two of which were animal charities. 'The Gates of Janus' is available via Amazon. Read a psychological profile of Ian Brady.
Aileen Wuornos: 'Monster' (co-authored by Christopher Berry-Dee) is purportedly an autobiographical account by Wuornos and is supposedly "told in her own words" and yet even though Wuornos gets a co-author title, this is little more than a vanity credit to boost sales as Christopher Berry-Dee (a seasoned true-crime author with an extensive back catalogue) is the sole writer, with Wuornos contributing additional details and a few paragraphs at the start of each chapter. It too is available via Amazon (what isn't?).
Herman W. Mudgett: Various "autobiographies" purport to have been written by Herman W Muggett (aka Dr H H Holmes), but many simply such as the three-volume book 'The Strange Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes' by John Borowski and Holmes' Own Story, all available via Amazon, simply contain extracts from Herman W. Mudgett's memoir written in 1895 shortly before his execution as well as his Moyamensing Prison diary which was published by Burk & McFetridge Company. H H Holmes original memoir is held at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington and the court transcript is available to buy online too.
Myra Hindley: 'One of your Own'. Although an autobiography was written by the Moors Murderer Myra Hindley during her incarceration at HMP Holloway (North London), the book was never published but various extracts of Hindley's autobiography do feature in 'One of your Own', a biography of Myra Hindley which was written by Carol Ann Lee, which is available online here - 'One of your Own'. Read a full psychological profile of Myra Hindley.
Seito Sakakibara: 'Zekka' is an autobiography written by the 14 year old Robe child-killer, who in May 1997, murdered Ayaka Yamashita (10) and Jun Hase (11); he hacked off Hase's head with a knife, hung his mutilated corpse on the school gate and stuffed into his mouth a note which read "This is the beginning of the game. You police guys stop me if you can. I desperately want to see people die, it is a thrill for me to commit murder. A bloody judgement is needed for my years of great bitterness".
Because Japanese law prohibits the identification of the perpetrator, Seito Sakakibara is a pseudonym, a mixture of symbols which mean "apostle, sake, devil and rose", although he is commonly known as "Boy A". 'Zekka' was published by Ohta Co on 19th June 2015, and contains vivid descriptions of the murder by Seito Sakakibara, written during his time in a medical juvenile reformatory, before his release in 2005. Upon release, Sakakibara sent a handwritten note of apology attached to a copy of the book to the bereaved families of his victims. Read more.
John Wayne Gacy Jnr: 'A Question of Doubt' is supposedly a 225 page autobiography by Gacy himself, published in 1992 by Craig Bowley Consultants. A first edition is very rare and only 500 were issued, all of which are signed by Gacy and contain an authentication note. That said, it's hard to tell whether 'A Question of Doubt' was written by Gacy, co-authored or ghost-written, as on the title page it reads; "A Question of Doubt: Commentary on the Trial of John Wayne Gacy (as told) by John Wayne Gacy", which seems odd, as any autobiography author would simply write "by John Wayne Gacy", where-as "as told by" implies it's a second-hand account relayed to someone else. See the book here. Or read a full psychological profile of John Wayne Gacy Jnr.
The Son of Sam Law: After the arrest of David Berkowitz in August 1977, so rabid was the media interest in the "Son of Sam" and fearing that he would sell his story to a hungry tabloid hack, that the New York State Legislature passed the "Son of Sam" law which was designed to stop convicted felons from profiting from their crimes, even though Berkowitz denied wanting any kind such deal. Now a born-again Christian, who has renamed himself the "Son of Hope", David Berkowitz publishes via his website and his prison journals 'Son of Hope' are available online.
Danny Rolling: 'The Making of a Serial Killer'. Written by Sondra London, she collaborated with Rolling to write 'The Making of a Serial Killer' during his incarceration on Death Row, following the murder of five students in Gainesville (Florida) and having attempted to murder his father. Rolling was executed by lethal injection in 2006. It's currently out of print.
Robert "Willie" Pickton: 'In His Own Words': Although "in his own words" does suggest that it was co-authored or ghost-written (based on interviews with Pickton), the 144 page paperback which was released on 29th January 2016 by Outskirts Press, and it is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, suggesting it is a first draft, written as and when he could. Supposedly Pickton wrote it in his maximum security cell in Agassiz’s Kent Institution, but because all of his communications are monitored, he slipped each page to an inmate who sent it to a friend in California called Michael Chilldress, hence Michael's name is on the cover. Buy a copy here.
Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins: 'The Final Truth' (co-authored by Wilton Earle), this autobiography of the life of Donald Gaskins is described as an "uncensored account of his disturbing crimes and the reasons for committing them" in "graphic detail" before his death by execution in 1992. Hardback copies selling online for £250.
Others you can pick up include: 'Killer Fiction' by G.J. Schaefer and 'Killer: A Journal of Murder' by Carl Panzram, to name but a few. If I can find any others, I'll add them here.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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