The Worst Woman in Sydney: The Life and Crimes of Kate Leigh

Leigh Straw

The Worst Woman in Sydney: The Life and Crimes of Kate Leigh
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The Worst Woman in Sydney: The Life and Crimes of Kate Leigh

Leigh Straw

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 every other account of Sydney’s criminal history from the 1920s to the 1960s. But she has never had a biography of her own.

Despite having more than 100 criminal convictions to her name, Kate Leigh is also remembered as a local hero, giving money to needy families and supporting her local community through the hard times of Depression and war. Here, novelist and historian Leigh Straw teases out the full story of how this wayward Reformatory girl from Dubbo made a fortune in eastern Sydney and defied the gender stereotyping of the time to become a leading underworld figure.

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