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In the spring of 1917 an apprentice from the Cumberland Paper Mills, just outside Sydney, was walking along a bush track beside the Lane Cove River when he discovered the partially burnt body of an unidentified woman. The arrest three years later of a 45-year-old Italian, Eugenia Falleni, for murder, led to an investigation that fascinated Australia.
Known in the newspapers as the ‘Man-Woman Case’, the trial revealed that from the time she had left New Zealand and gone to sea as a cabin boy, Eugenia Falleni had lived at least twenty years of her life in the guise of a man.
Suzanne Falkiner has written a remarkable story that follows the course of her own efforts to accurately reconstruct Eugenia’s extraordinary life, and provides an intriguing account of her subsequent trial.
Exploring questions never able to be answered at the time, the author also examines the plight of working-class migrant women, and reveals some of the secrets of a transgendered existence in an era when leading such a life was dangerous and unacceptable.
First published in 1988, this new edition of Eugenia: A Man updates the story to include new information that has come to light since then.
Praise for Eugenia: A Man by Suzanne Falkiner
‘Thoughtful, absorbing.’ —The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Lucidly written by a trenchant and conscientious writer, Eugenia: A Man is undoubtedly the fullest and fairest account of the curious and tragic life of a transsexual in Sydney at the turn of the century.’ —Mark Try, Campaign
‘Suzanne Falkiner’s treatment of this story is impressive in several ways. It skilfully alleviates the monotony of old documents; it traces a complex life with reportorial skill, it makes this past sequence a matter of present concern and enlightenment … As the author of a good book, and, rarer still, a good book about crime, Falkiner deserves both praise and respect.’ —Stephen Knight, The Age Monthly Review
‘Well-researched and clearly written.’ —Peter Corris, The Weekend Australian