'Overington has a real gift.'
The Sydney Morning Herald
'The sort of books you read in a day and talk about for weeks.'
The Australian Women's Weekly
WHO WAS LOUISA COLLINS?
Louisa Collins was a 41-year-old mother of ten children, who was hanged for murder in 1889. Caroline's new book, LAST WOMAN HANGED, tells the story of her life and her many trials, and asks: was she really guilty?
WHO WERE LOUISA'S VICTIMS?
Louisa's first husband was a butcher, Charles Andrews, who died in February 1887; her second husband, the much younger, more handsome Michael Collins, died in July 1888. Louisa was at various times accused of killing either or both of them.
DID LOUISA KILL HER HUSBANDS?
Well, that is the question. The Crown certainly thought so. Both of Louisa's husbands died suddenly. The Crown was convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic. She was put on trial an extraordinary FOUR TIMES before the Crown could 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.
WAS LOUISA GUILTY?
Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial. Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter, May, who was still a child 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. Appalled by the sentence, a group of women rose up to try to save Louisa's life, arguing that a legal system comprised only of men could not with any integrity hang a woman. These women could not, in the end, save Louisa, but many went on to join the suffrage movement and, less than 15 years after Louisa was hanged, Australian women would become some of the first in the world to get the vote.
LAST WOMAN HANGED