Elizabeth is Missing. By Lillian de la Torre. (Michael Joseph. 15s.)
THIS is an entertaining and comprehensive assessment of all the evidence in the notorious eighteenth-century mystery of Elizabeth Canning. Why Elizabeth Canning's contemporaries should have been so completely fascinated by her abduction, followed quickly by her arraignment for perjury, is a little hard to guess. But fascinated they were : as the yield of pamphlets and broadsheets which an American scholar has /lbw sifted for the present book proves. Even the Victorians were interested in the fate of this fresh-faced but not pretty servant-girl, who suddenly disappeared in the twilight of January I, 1753, between Houndsditch and Aldermanbury Postern; and reappeared, hungry and bruised, 28 days later, telling a long, explicit story of abduction by gypsies. Lord Houghton, who had an unrivalled collection of Canning material, would have relished this final word upon an old mystery. Miss de la Torre has produced a most convincing account of what in fact happened to Elizabeth Canning at Enfield. To tabulate her findings, though, would be to spoil enjoyment of her book.