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Murdering Stepmothers

The Execution of Martha Rendell

Murdering Stepmothers by Anna Haebich
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Sensational rumours of the murder of three small children by their stepmother cause a furore in Perth in 1909. Shocked by horrific descriptions of how she poisoned the children, citizens demand her execution as one voice. But did she do it? Or was she a victim of the prejudices of her persecutors? Anna Haebich brings to life the people of Perth and the entangled mesh of self-righteous bigotry, slander and unbridled revenge they invoke to propel the trial of Martha Rendell to its inevitable end. We see the accused woman’s downward spiral from her dreams of a new beginning with her lover to a life of domestic drudgery and deceits; then her final days on the edge of the abyss – becoming the last woman in the state to be hanged. Based on a true story and meticulously researched, this compelling novel is driven by passion, imagination and an eerie conjuring up of the past.
The University of Western Australia Publishing; May 2010
224 pages; ISBN 9781742583181
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Title: Murdering Stepmothers
Author: Anna Haebich
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