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Summary

Two husbands, four trials and one bloody execution: Winner of the 2015 Davitt Award for Best Crime Book (nonfiction)—the terrible true story of Louisa Collins.

In January 1889, Louisa Collins, a 41-year-old mother of 10 children, became the first woman hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. Both of Louisa's husbands had died suddenly and the Crown, convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic, put her on trial an extraordinary four times in order to get a conviction, to the horror of many in the legal community. Louisa protested her innocence until the end.

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. Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law—except when it came to the gallows. They could not vote or stand for parliament—or sit on juries. 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.

Caroline Overington is the author of 11 books of fiction and non-fiction, including the top-selling The One Who Got Away, a psychological crime novel. She has said: "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."

©2016 HarperCollins Publishers Australia pty Ltd (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Australia pty Ltd

Critic reviews

"The story she tells ... is a useful challenge to any tendency to simple moral indignation" (Beverley Kingston, Sydney Morning Herald)

"This is a fascinating book, a terrific read, and an excellent reminder of who tells the stories, and whose stories are forgotten" (Frances Rand, South Coast Register)

 "... what's ... interesting is Caroline Overington's even-handed appraisal of Collins's alleged crime(s) that led her to become the last woman hanged in New South Wales in 1889" (Launceston Sunday Examiner)

What listeners say about Last Woman Hanged

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Disappointed 😞

Had this in my wish list and couldn't wait until my credit day.
after 30 mins in i knew it wasn't going to work for me, tried to return it but wasn't eligible, Every night when i tried to persevere i fell asleep. finally finished it.
i found the epilogue more interesting than the whole book.

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the narrator was a little bit boring. but I've heard worse .do fi do

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Excellent Insight and engaging

Really enjoyed this piece of well written and thoroughly researched narrative. The story of Louisa Collins is fascinating in itself but was additionally enhanced by detail of the social settings of the time and back stories of others involved in the occurrences. The narrator was excellent in my opinion.

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Do Not Pass This One By

I’m a huge fan of the author having listened to nearly all her novels over the past few weeks.
This one is different, it follows the true story of the last woman hanged in New South Wales and the detail is phenomenal. So much research has gone into this book with all the characters having been real people back in the 19th century in Australia. The story is heartbreaking but makes for compulsive listening and the narration is excellent. One of my favourites yet. I cannot rate this one highly enough.

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Interesting and thought provoking

I really enjoyed this but it is as you may expect very sad. Very well researched- it feels like a great amount of love went into telling the story. I don’t think it’s the aim of the book but I did come away thinking how lucky we are (as women) that things have moved on so much.

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Well detailed and interesting throughout.

Caroline Overton is my author of the year. She clearly researches her books exhaustively and writes with both sympathy and neutrality.
This is her first book I’ve read/listened to that’s not fiction. It is both respectful and illuminating of the characters.
Definitely recommended.

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Interesting true story

I can only imagine the hardwork the author had to do to be able to tell this story. It is truly remarkable listen/read and although I went in with my mind made up, listening to the evidence all the way through means I am not sure if she did it or not. See for yourself.

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  • 24-06-21

Last woman Hanged by Caroline Overington

sad story. I should say true story. .. This is a story about how women has been treated all down. through the ages. and we still have to fight for our rights in 2021 On the up side the male population doesn't hang us out i n public any more..

1 person found this helpful