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  • Last Woman Hanged

  • The Terrible True Story of Louisa Collins
  • By: Caroline Overington
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Vuletic
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Last Woman Hanged

By: Caroline Overington
Narrated by: Jennifer Vuletic
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Publisher's 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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good

very good listen. live the story. . . . . . . . . .

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2 people found this helpful

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Important history

I am embarrassed to confess, I knew nothing about this woman and the social and judicial history surrounding her death.
A travesty and tragedy on so many levels.
Women’s place in our early colonial society was hardly recognised but for the emergence of the wonderful suffrage movement.
One can’t even imagine the situation where a person would be tried 4 times !!
Well researched and incredibly interesting
Thank you
Highly recommended ..

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Thoroughly Enjoyable Listen

I really felt I came to know Louisa through this book, and personally I do not feel she was guilty of the crime. Of course, I may be wrong, but seeing as women literally had no voice, paid taxes and were literally voiceless everywhere, she should never have been hung. Thank you for writing such an interesting book. The narration was superb also.

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More than one woman’s story

Loved it. The book has a wonderful mix of history, drama and application to our modern Australian life. Thousands of hours of research and heart has combined to a beautifully written and recorded book. The voices and accents are commendable.

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another success

I love Australian stories. the narration was really good. it was worth listening to

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Absolutely fascinating, and wonderful narration

What a fascinating story. I found myself changing from thinking Louisa Collins was guilty to innocent and back again so many times. The justice system at that time was abhorrent, and I wonder how they were able to even refer to it as justice.

Jennifer Vuletic is an amazing narrator and I now seek out any book she has narrated. All that I have listened to have been thoroughly enjoyable and informative and I would never have otherwise come across them.

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Caroline Overington delivers again! 10/10

An important book for Australians, for women, for lovers of history, for people who think we can do better as a society than we have in the past. There are so many facts in this book that I'm going to have to buy the paper version. Thank you Caroline, I appreciate the absolutely massive job you had in gathering all of this information and presenting it in such a way that I want to know more.

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Great history

Not my normal book, and it was quite factual at times. But I must say I really did enjoy this book!
I did break up reading it with other books too. Well worth the read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.