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The Worst Woman in Sydney
The life and crimes of Kate Leigh
Matriarch of the criminal underworld or the Robin Hood of inner Sydney?
The legend of Kate Leigh, Sydney’s famed brothel madam, sly grog seller and drug dealer, has loomed large in TV’s Underbelly and accounts of Sydney’s criminal history from the 1920s to the 1960s. Despite her many criminal convictions, Kate Leigh is also remembered as a local hero, giving money to needy families through the Depression and World War II.
Novelist and historian Leigh Straw tells the story of how this wayward Dubbo reformatory girl became a leading underworld figure.
Leigh Straw is a historian and author. Her books include three historical crime novels (Limestone, Sophia Lane and Legacy), a history of criminal women in Perth and Fremantle (Drunks, Pests and Harlots, 2013) and a forthcoming book on Australian World War II soldiers. Leigh lectures in history at Edith Cowan University.