‘This woman,’ the prosecutor whirled to face Elizabeth, one arm flung out in her direction in case anyone in the courtroom might not know which woman he meant, ‘is a fallen woman.’
Emma Beach and Cheryl Burman, The Shanty Keeper's Wife, 2016
Elizabeth Scott isn’t famous.
There’s hardly been a word written about her. Yet, as the first woman hanged in the colony of Victoria, you’d expect her to be better known.
It wasn’t like that at the time of her death, in 1863. The public and the press had a field day, viewing this twenty-three-old petite and pretty woman, the mother of two little boys, as an adulterous conniver who callously used a young man and an illiterate half-caste to do away with a no-longer-wanted much older husband. She was branded the female monster, lacking any kind of feminine attributes; no longer a woman.
The Shanty Keeper's Wife is an historical novel. While based on several years of research into Elizabeth’s life and death, the authors do not claim that every thought and action we have ascribed to our heroine and her fellow tragedians is true. What we have done is take the known facts and weave our story of Elizabeth Scott around them.
On this site, you can delve more deeply into those facts and perhaps judge for yourself the guilt or innocence of our Victorian ‘female monster’.