By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Hattie Carroll’s killer finally dies

William Zantzinger, the subject of Bob Dylan’s song “The Lonely Death of Hattie Carroll,” has died at the age of 69. A truly miserable human being, Zantzinger was caught — many years after caning Ms. Carroll to death — collecting rent from black families who lived in shanties he didn’t even own.

John Donne was wrong.

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Another round in the paid-content debate


  1. Ani

    I’m gonna argue with 2 points. Maybe the first is a quibble. The page with the Donne gives an “Olde English version” of the poem, as well as a version with more modern spelling. It’s been a long time since I studied Donne, but he didn’t write in Old English, and I have no idea what “Olde English” means to most people. The second is that if you’re trying to characterize this person who died as divorced from the rest of us poor schlubs, I disagree. He did things that harmed other people, he caused pain and damage, he may even have been disconnected from what we call a conscience, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t one of us.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Ani: Zantzinger was absolutely one of us. I am not, however, diminished by his passing. Don’t know what to tell you about the “Olde English Version.” Does sound like a sign outside a bar for tourists, doesn’t it?

  3. Ani

    Dan,So where did Donne go wrong in his thinking, then?

  4. Eric

    Dan – Thanks for bringing this to my attention. A great song. A very sad case. A pathetic person. But I also think Donne is right.

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