Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley

A realistic, representational, tragicomedy published in 1981

Important Facts...

  • Henley was born in Jackson, Mississippi on May 8th, 1953
  • Crimes of the Heart won the 1979 Great American Play Contest as well as the Pulitzer Prize
  • When Henley won her Pulitzer Prize she was the 1st woman to receive the award in 23 years
  • Hurricane Camille was, at the time, the 2nd strongest hurricane in recorded history and it flattened most of Mississippi

Meet the Characters!

Given Circumstances


  • The 3 MaGrath sisters: Lenny MaGrath Meg MaGrath, and Babe Botrelle
  • Minor characters include: Chick Boyle, the sister's first cousin, Doc Porter, Meg's old boyfriend, and Barnette Lloyd, Babe's lawyer for her murder trial


  • The 3 sisters are initially brought back together when Babe is incarcerated for shooting her husband

Where & When?

  • In the sisters' childhood home located in Hazlehurst, Mississippi 5 years after Hurricane Camille


  • To realize how pain can change and harden a person, as well as cause them to act in horrible ways they ordinarily wouldn't
  • To think about the importance of having a truly happy moment with the ones you love
  • To consider how easy it can be for a human being to feel lonely and helpless