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The Baby Farmers : A Chilling Tale of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets and Murder in 19th Century Australia - Annie Cossins

The Baby Farmers

A Chilling Tale of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets and Murder in 19th Century Australia

Paperback

Published: 1st June 2013
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Published: 22nd May 2013
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The most common murder victim in 19th century Australia was a baby, and the most common perpetrator was a woman. Annie Cossins pieces together the fascinating story of the most infamous legal trial in Australia to reveal an underworld of struggling mothers, unwanted babies, and a society that preferred to turn a blind eye.

In October 1892, a one-month-old baby boy was found buried in the backyard of Sarah and John Makin, two wretchedly poor baby farmers in inner Sydney. In the weeks that followed, 12 more babies were found buried in the backyards of other houses in which the Makins had lived. This resulted in the most infamous trial in Australian legal history, and exposed a shocking underworld of desperate mothers, drugged and starving babies, and a black market in the sale and murder of children.

Annie Cossins pieces together a dramatic and tragic tale with larger than life characters: theatrical Sarah Makin, her smooth-talking husband John, her disloyal daughter, Clarice, diligent Constable James Joyce with curious domestic arrangements of his own, and a network of baby farmers stretching across the city. It's a glimpse into a society that preferred to turn a blind eye to the fate of its most vulnerable members, only a century ago.

'A very moving book...[It] brings to life the awful poverty and the immoral 'morality' of the times, that created conditions which broke that most sacred and powerful bond - that between mother and baby - and broke the hearts of impoverished young women.' - Gabrielle Lord

'A very readable and accessible history of a terrible time. The writer has a passionate grasp of her subject and her time.' - Kerry Greenwood

'Cossins is both relentless in her search, and engrossing in her writing' - Lucy Sussex

About the Author

Annie Cossins is an author, actor and criminologist. She is an Associate Professor in the Law School at the University of NSW and a leading legal expert on evidence law and sexual assault law reform. In 2009 she played the role of Sarah Makin in an episode of a TV series, Deadly Women.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
 
4.3

(based on 3 reviews)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

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  • Well written (3)

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4.0

Fascinating and slghtly macabre

By 

from Bellingen

About Me Everyday Reader

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Informative
  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Historical insight

    An interesting and shocking look at 19th century Sydney and the terrible treatment of women, prisoners and illegitimate babies. Be sure to Google "baby farmers" for information on the practice overseas.Definitely worth reading.

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    4.0

    Baby Farmers

    By 

    from Sydney

    About Me Casual Reader

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Read
    • Well Written

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      • Older Readers
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      Excellent reading. Highly recommended!!

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      5.0

      i will read this book again

      By 

      from goulburn

      About Me Rarely Read

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Easy To Read
      • Engaging characters
      • Well Written

      Cons

      • Not What I Expected

      Best Uses

      • Older Readers

      Australasias past is one of the most interesting things that can be written about

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      'A very moving book... (It) brings to life the awful poverty and the immoral 'morality' of the times, that created conditions which broke that most sacred and powerful bond - that between mother and baby - and broke the hearts of impoverished young women.' - Gabrielle Lord. 'A very readable and accessible history of a terrible time. The writer has a passionate grasp of her subject and her time.' - Kerry Greenwood.

      Author's note..Prologue..PART I: WHO WERE THE MAKINS?..1 The hanging..2 Sarah Makin: convict daughter..3 John Makin: son of the middle class with a past..4 The deadly secret in Sarah Makin's body..PART II: DIGGING UP THE BABY FARMERS' SECRETS..5 The baby trade..6 The Macdonaldtown discoveries..7 To catch a baby farmer..8 The first inquest: two babies called A and B..9 Constable James Joyce: Joycean fictions and the art of deceit..10 More digging and the strange behaviour of the Makins..11 The next five inquests: the Makins' lives stripped bare..12 The longest, saddest inquest: clothing and other complications..13 The mysterious Mr and Mrs Wilson give evidence..14 The obsessions of James Joyce: digging, redigging and more digging..15 Mothers, mothers everywhere: the George Street inquests begin..16 The day Miss Amber Murray visited the Makins..PART III: TRIALS, APPEALS AND VARIOUS PETITIONS..17 The trial of the century: a judge out of his depth..18 The first appeal: the Makins' struggle against the hand of fate..19 The law passes sentence..20 Last stop, London..21 Makin's last chance: an 'innocent' man under the thumb of a 'fiendish' woman..PART IV: SARAH MAKIN, REFORMED WOMAN..22 From convict daughter to convict..23 Was Sarah Makin really an evil, deadly woman?..24 The lives that were left..Notes..Acknowledgements..Index

      ISBN: 9781743314012
      ISBN-10: 1743314019
      Audience: General
      Format: Paperback
      Language: English
      Number Of Pages: 304
      Published: 1st June 2013
      Publisher: Allen & Unwin
      Country of Publication: AU
      Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 2.3
      Weight (kg): 0.5
      Edition Number: 1