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  • Hachette Australia
  • Hachette Australia

The Suitcase Baby

Tanya Bretherton

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True crime

In Sydney in the 1920s, babies were turning up in the harbour, on trains, and in public places. These babies, all murdered, mostly by their mothers, were a devastating symptom of changing morals and a growing metropolis. One of these babies turned up on a harbour beach - and from there, an extraordinary story unfolded.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, 17 November 1923, a suitcase was found washed up on the shore of a small beach in the Sydney harbourside suburb of Mosman. What it contained - and why - would prove to be explosive.

The discovery of 'the suitcase baby', and the revelations that followed, generated unprecedented newspaper coverage and public interest. The murdered baby, a little girl, was one of many dead infants who were turning up in the harbour, on trains and in other public places. These innocent victims, born from unmarried mothers, were a devastating symptom of the clash between public morality, private passions and unrelenting poverty in a fast-growing metropolis with little capacity for public welfare.

Police tracked down Sarah Boyd, the mother of the suitcase baby, and the murder trial of Sarah and her friend Jean Olliver became a media sensation. The extraordinary story of the suitcase baby will keep you riveted until the very last page. True history that is both shocking and too real, this unforgettable tale is rich in historical detail yet moves at the pace of a great crime novel, with characters and events as vivid as if they are happening now.

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