One Woman. Two Husbands. Four Trials.
One Bloody Execution
LAST WOMAN HANGED
Louisa Collins was one of the only people in the world ever to be tried not once, but four times, for murder. In her day she was one of the most notorious women alive. But her story is unknown. Until now:
On 8 January 1889, Louisa Collins, 39, a mother of ten became the last woman hanged at the Darlinghurst gaol in NSW. Louisa was beautiful. She was promiscuous. She was under suspicion for murdering her first husband and had just been found guilty of murdering her second, Michael Peter Collins. To make matters worse the evidence which condemned her to the gallows came from her own daughter, 11-year-old May.
But was she guilty? Or did the courts send an innocent woman to hang?
For five years writer Caroline Overington has conducted a rigorous investigation into the case, tracking down descendants, searching through archival footage and constructing a portrait of a justice system gone wrong. As she argues Louisa’s case had stunning implications for society at large – most of all it for the women of this country; Louisa’s trial and conviction were central to a proces which saw Australian women gain rights their forebears could only dream of.
Last Woman Hanged is gripping, astonishing – and true.