The Baby Farmers

The Baby Farmers : A chilling tale of missing babies, shameful secrets and murder in 19th century Australia

3.35 (137 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

'The book's power stems from its devastating details; Cossins establishes a tone so vivid it's reminiscent of Dickens.' Publishers Weekly

In October 1892, a one-month-old baby boy was found buried in the backyard of Sarah and John Makin, two wretchedly poor baby farmers in inner Sydney. In the weeks that followed, 12 more babies were found buried in the backyards of other houses in which the Makins had lived. This resulted in the most infamous trial in Australian legal history, and exposed a shocking underworld of desperate mothers, drugged and starving babies, and a black market in the sale and murder of children.

Annie Cossins pieces together a dramatic and tragic tale with larger than life characters: theatrical Sarah Makin; her smooth-talking husband, John; her disloyal daughter, Clarice; diligent Constable James Joyce, with curious domestic arrangements of his own; and a network of baby farmers stretching across the city. It's a glimpse into a society that preferred to turn a blind eye to the fate of its most vulnerable members, only a century ago.

'A very moving book.[It] brings to life the awful poverty and the immoral 'morality' of the times. conditions which broke that most sacred and powerful bond - between mother and baby - and broke the hearts of impoverished young women.' - Gabrielle Lord

'A very readable and accessible history of a terrible time. The writer has a passionate grasp of her subject and her time.' - Kerry Greenwood

'Cossins is both relentless in her search, and engrossing in her writing' - Lucy Sussex
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 28mm | 399.99g
  • St Leonards, Australia
  • English
  • Main
  • 12pp colour photos
  • 1743314019
  • 9781743314012
  • 246,999

Table of contents

Author's note

Prologue

PART I: WHO WERE THE MAKINS?

1 The hanging

2 Sarah Makin: convict daughter

3 John Makin: son of the middle class with a past

4 The deadly secret in Sarah Makin's body

PART II: DIGGING UP THE BABY FARMERS' SECRETS

5 The baby trade

6 The Macdonaldtown discoveries

7 To catch a baby farmer

8 The first inquest: two babies called A and B

9 Constable James Joyce: Joycean fictions and the art of deceit

10 More digging and the strange behaviour of the Makins

11 The next five inquests: the Makins' lives stripped bare

12 The longest, saddest inquest: clothing and other complications

13 The mysterious Mr and Mrs Wilson give evidence

14 The obsessions of James Joyce: digging, redigging and more digging

15 Mothers, mothers everywhere: the George Street inquests begin

16 The day Miss Amber Murray visited the Makins

PART III: TRIALS, APPEALS AND VARIOUS PETITIONS

17 The trial of the century: a judge out of his depth

18 The first appeal: the Makins' struggle against the hand of fate

19 The law passes sentence

20 Last stop, London

21 Makin's last chance: an 'innocent' man under the thumb of a 'fiendish' woman

PART IV: SARAH MAKIN, REFORMED WOMAN

22 From convict daughter to convict

23 Was Sarah Makin really an evil, deadly woman?

24 The lives that were left

Notes

Acknowledgements

Index
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Review quote

'A very moving book... (It) brings to life the awful poverty and the immoral 'morality' of the times, that created conditions which broke that most sacred and powerful bond - that between mother and baby - and broke the hearts of impoverished young women.' - Gabrielle Lord. 'A very readable and accessible history of a terrible time. The writer has a passionate grasp of her subject and her time.' - Kerry Greenwood.
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About Annie Cossins

Annie Cossins is an author, actor and criminologist. She is an Associate Professor in the Law School at the University of NSW and a leading legal expert on evidence law and sexual assault law reform. In 2009 she played the role of Sarah Makin in an episode of a TV series, Deadly Women.
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Rating details

137 ratings
3.35 out of 5 stars
5 13% (18)
4 28% (39)
3 43% (59)
2 11% (15)
1 4% (6)
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