Alias Grace is a fictionalization of a historical character, Grace Marks, a notorious figure of the 1840’s who was imprisoned for twenty-eight years for her part in the murder of Thomas Kinnear, her wealthy employer, and Nancy Montgomery, his mistress and housekeeper.
Grace Marks, the convicted murderess, has been hired out from prison to serve as a domestic servant in the home of the Governor of the penitentiary. A Committee of gentlemen and ladies from the Methodist church, led by the minister, hopes to have her pardoned and released. Grace cannot remember what happened on the day of the murders, and she exhibits symptoms of hysteria, so the minister hires Dr. Simon Jordan, a psychiatrist, to interview her, hoping he will find her to be a hysteric, and not a criminal. An arrangement is made so that Dr. Jordan will interview Grace during afternoons in the sewing room in the governor’s mansion.