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eBOOK DYNASTY: HUMANITY / POP SCIENCE: History / Geography: The Chinawoman

The Chinawoman

Author: Ken Oldis
Translator: Christine Sun
Publisher: Taiwan.com.au Portal / eBook Dynasty
Publishing Date: November 2012
Formats: MOBI, ePUB, PDF (H: horizontal), PDF (V: vertical)
Languages: Traditional Chinese (TC), Simplified Chinese (SC)
Price: US$7.00

About This Book:

The Chinawoman tells how the police-hunt for the murderers of an English prostitute fanned anti-Chinese hysteria in colonial Melbourne. The horrific crime was enveloped in mystery for months, until political pressure broke the silence and two Chinese suspects were delivered up to the English.

It was a delicate time -- the interests of all their countrymen in the colony were balanced against those of a few. The Chief of Detectives schemed to ensure his investigation was a success, while honest men warned: "Justice seeks to arrive at Truth, the policeman aims at a conviction."

At the sensational trial before hanging-judge Redmond Barry, the detectives' star witness intoned: "I am Fook Shing. I must tell the truth. If I do not tell the truth, may thunder kill me and fire come from heaven and burn me up." Two men were convicted on the basis of highly suspicious and circumstantial evidence, though public disquiet remained about police methods and the fairness of the trial.

About This Author:

Ken Oldis has had a life-long fascination with Australian and in particular Victorian history, first triggered as a boy by his grandmother's tales of the "olden days". He read law and completed an Arts degree in history after a long pause to backpack from India to Ireland and around Europe and Asia in the mid-1980s.

Since being admitted as a lawyer, Ken has practised almost exclusively in the criminal jurisdiction and is familiar with the mechanics of criminal justice. He lives in Melbourne... [more]


  • The Victorian Community History Award 2009

Selected Reviews:

  • "At first glance this book reads like fiction, but the copious, verifiable endnotes attest to its authenticity as Melbourne history. This is history in the form of a murder thriller: In December 1856, who killed the prostitute Sophie Lewis, known as the Chinawoman because of her association with Chinese men?.... This is a suspenseful page-turner told in a highly original way. The author, Ken Oldis, is a Melbourne lawyer practicing in the criminal jurisdiction. Apart from telling a gripping story, his book gives an insight into the dubious workings of Victoria's detective force and the travails of the Chinese community. It is an original and graphic book." ~Judges' Commendations, The Victorian Community History Award 2009
  • "[A] compelling reconstruction of a murder in Melbourne in 1856... Ken Oldis, with a novelistic sense of colour and atmosphere, leads the reader through the dark streets and murky lanes of Melbourne in a quest for the truth... A criminal lawyer himself, he re-examines the case and provides a warts-and-all portrait of the colony at a critical time in its history." ~The Age Newspaper
  • "A penetrating forensic study and a nationally significant piece of social history, presented as a rattling good yarn of colonial Melbourne at its most gothic." ~Ian Jones, Author of Ned Kelly: A Short Life

Sample Reading (in Traditional Chinese):


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