By Jane Tunstill, Emeritus Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London.
It is no coincidence that the longest-running play on the London stage, The Mousetrap, which is still being shown after 64 years, is based on a key tragic event in the history of childcare policy in this country. Agatha Christie recognised that the death of Denis O’Neill in 1945, at the hands of his foster parents, was a topic to engage the attention of her readers, and audiences have certainly proved her right. The tragedy, and subsequent enquiry, directly triggered the 1948 Children Act, which introduced a national framework of children’s departments responsible for the systematic oversight of the welfare of children. Continue reading