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Last Woman Hanged  : The Terrible True Story of Louisa Collins - Caroline Overington

Last Woman Hanged

The Terrible True Story of Louisa Collins

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In January 1889, Louisa Collins, a 41-year-old mother of ten children, became the first woman hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. Both of Louisa's husbands died suddenly. The Crown was convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic and, to the horror of many in the legal community, put her on trial an extraordinary FOUR TIMES in order to get a conviction. Louisa protested her innocence until the end. Now, in Last Woman Hanged, writer and journalist Caroline Overington delves into the archives to re-examine the original, forensic reports, court documents, judges notebooks, witness statements and police and gaol records, in an effort to discover the truth.

Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial. Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter, May, who was just 10-years-old when asked to take the stand.

The historical context is also important: Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law - except when it came to the gallows.

Women could not vote or stand for parliament - or sit on juries. There were no female politicians and no women judges.

Against this background, a small group of women rose up to try to save Louisa's life, arguing that a legal system comprised only of men - male judges, all-male jury, male prosecutor, governor and Premier - could not with any integrity hang a woman.

The tenacity of these women would not save Louisa but it would ultimately carry women from their homes all the way to Parliament House.

Less than 15 years after Louisa was hanged, Australian women would become some of the first in the world to get the vote. They would take seats in State parliament, and in Canberra. They would become doctors, lawyers, judges, premiers - even the Prime Minister.

Caroline says: 'My hope is that Last Woman Hanged will be read not only as a true crime story but as a letter of profound thanks to that generation of women who fought so hard for the rights we still enjoy today.'


Gripping and True


I love the hard cover and sleeve design. The book has everything crime, Australian History and Womens issues rolled into one book. A truly great read and an important point in Australian History recorded so well.



I'm still wondering.......


The only thing I found slightly lacking in the book is some detail about the relationship between mother and children esecially the daughetr Mary's relationship with her Mum. Fascinating insight into the "justice" system of the time and women's rights. Still can't fathom why she wasn't pardoned and given a life sentence.

Southern NSW


Australia's Grim Past Explored....


Caroline Overington's research into the fate of Louisa Collins is thorough and detailed. It is presented in a manner that is both informative and accessible - this might be history but it could just as likely be an historically based fictional murder mystery! The voice of women in history is not often heard: thanks to Ms Overington, the voices of a number of Australian women who have contributed to our history are finally having their chance.

Melbourne, AU


Last Woman Hanged

4.3 3


ISBN: 9780732299729
ISBN-10: 0732299721
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st November 2014
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 24.0 x 16.3  x 3.3
Weight (kg): 0.64

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