The murder of a 23-year-old pregnant woman, which left Bromley residents shocked and paranoid, has been brought back into the spotlight.

Harriet Monckton, who was from a respected family, was found dead in the privy behind the old chapel she regularly visited in Widmore Road in 1843.

Her early death came after apparently swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid.

Author, and former Kent Police intelligence analyst, Elizabeth Haynes stumbled across the grisly facts when researching Victorian coroner reports for a novel idea.

The book, called The Murder of Harriet Monckton, will be launched at Waterstones in Bromley on Tuesday (September 25).

She told News Shopper what fascinated her about Harriet.

“I felt terribly sorry for her,” she said. “The inquest took two-and-a-half years to reach a verdict.

“I felt desperately sorry she never had justice. She was horribly murdered and her unborn son died. Nobody was ever arrested or charged.

“It is completely forgotten and nobody knows she even existed.”

The book tells the story of Harriet's final hours through the eyes of those who knew her best.

Elizabeth said Harriet’s murder had a “huge impact” on Bromley.

“I read an awful lot of newspaper reports about it. The whole town was seething with gossip and intrigued with horror.

“She met a terrible end and people were looking at each other suspiciously.”

The author, who lives in Norfolk, said it was “amazing” returning to Bromley, a borough she used to work in, for research. 

She was thrilled that a graphic designer created a map of Bromley from 1843 for the start of the novel.

Elizabeth ultimately wrote the book to “achieve justice” for the young woman whose poignant final hours became lost in old library documents.

Did she achieve her goal?

“I think so,” Elizabeth said. “I had to guess who the murderer was. There were so many people it could have been. There is enough information in the book for people to make their own minds up.

“What I hope I achieved is that Harriet is now not going to be forgotten after all. It is a nice legacy for me to bring her back into the public eye.”

Elizabeth's first novel, Into the Darkest Corner, was sold in 37 countries and became Amazon's book of the year and The New York Time's bestseller.