Author(s): Annie Cossins
In October 1892, a one-month-old baby boy was found buried in the backyard of Sarah and John Makin, two wretchedly poor baby farmers in inner Sydney. In the weeks that followed, 12 more babies were found buried in the backyards of other houses in which the Makins had lived. This resulted in the most infamous trial in Australian legal history, and exposed a shocking underworld of desperate mothers, drugged and starving babies, and a black market in the sale and murder of children. Annie Cossins pieces together a dramatic and tragic tale with larger-than-life characters: theatrical Sarah Makin, her smooth-talking husband John, her disloyal daughter, Clarice, diligent Constable James Joyce with curious domestic arrangements of his own, and a network of baby farmers stretching across the city. It's a glimpse into a society that preferred to turn a blind eye to the fate of its most vulnerable members, only a century ago.
'A very moving book... (It) brings to life the awful poverty and the immoral 'morality' of the times, that created conditions which broke that most sacred and powerful bond - that between mother and baby - and broke the hearts of impoverished young women.' - Gabrielle Lord. 'A very readable and accessible history of a terrible time. The writer has a passionate grasp of her subject and her time.' - Kerry Greenwood.