A Note on Pronouns

Unfortunately, there are no adequate pronouns in the English language with which to refer to someone of indeterminate gender. In this blog, I have made the decision to refer to Falleni as a ‘he’ when he passed as Harry Crawford, and to refer to Falleni as a ‘she’ when she passed as Tally Ho, Nina, or Jean Ford. When negotiating the border between ‘his’ passing and the ‘revelation’ of ‘her’ sex by the police, I have used others’ perceptions of Falleni’s gender to determine which pronoun to use, as so much of my treatment of Falleni’s story has to do with the ‘collapsing down’ that takes place when one is observed by external subjectivities. When referring to Falleni as a collective or singular identity, I have settled on the first person plural pronoun.  I have tried, where possible, to refer to Eugenia Falleni as Falleni, for its gender-neutrality, although when discussing Falleni in the context of their family home (rife with Fallenis) I have used their given name.

Uncertainty in the research of an indeterminate identity

Ever since Falleni’s arrest on 5 July, 1920, the story of Eugenia Falleni, (alias Harry Crawford, Nina Falleni, Jack Crawford, Jean Ford) has been the subject of sensational news stories and, more recently, films, plays, long form biographies and academic studies. In the ninety-five years since Falleni’s story first became public, various details have changed in the popular narrative, and Falleni’s role has gradually morphed from "criminal" to "victim". Falleni was first depicted in the press of the 1920s and 1930s as a "human curio", "monster" or medical case study of sexual inversion. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s Falleni resurfaced in the tabloid press as the subject of "true crime" feature articles which largely emphasised their violent domination over a vulnerable wife and step-son. It was not until Suzanne Falkiner’s biography was published in 1988 that authors sought to explain Falleni’s alleged crimes through an analysis of the social and historical contexts that Falleni existed within. In the hands of twentieth-century storytellers Falleni’s story has been a fluid narrative, and Falleni gave many different versions of their own life, all of which emphasised different truths. Research into Falleni’s lives has led me to believe Falleni did not have one "authentic" self hidden from view, waiting to be revealed. All the versions of Falleni—represented and real—appear to be authentically part of the contexts in which they were created. Falleni’s case appears to illustrate with special force that identity, gender and even sex, as Judith Butler has suggested, are not qualities assigned at birth, but are rather the culmination of many small, repeated, observed and performed acts, impossible to extricate from social experience.

Negotiating uncertainty in the writing of Half Wild

Half Wild is a novel in four parts written through and around the sources pertaining to the lives of Eugenia Falleni. When so much of the factual basis underpinning Falleni’s story is uncertain, a range of narrative scenarios opens up. My challenge has been to turn these occasionally contradictory possible scenarios into a narrative, without collapsing them down into yet another singular, factually problematic, account of "what happened" to Falleni. Despite the source-based research underpinning Half Wild, I have chosen to write the book as a work of fiction in order to explore more thoroughly the emotional colour palette, multi-vocality and myths that surround the facts of Falleni’s story.

Like Suzanne Falkiner, I do not claim to speak on behalf of Falleni, and although I have, at times, written in the first person from Falleni’s point of view, I have tried to ensure that these voices are lyrical, implausible, and implicitly metafictional, in that they point to their own status as imaginings, versions and performances without compromising the immersive nature of their fiction-worlds.

In order to accommodate contradictory possibilities, I have refracted Falleni’s story by dividing the novel into four parts. In each part, a different persona of Falleni’s, or a different way of looking at Falleni, is presented as the point of focus. By using this structure, I aim not to “foreground a single voice and vantage point but rather to set plural voices in motion and conflict,” challenging the idea that Falleni’s "true" self was one self in particular.[1] “Who She Wants to Be” is narrated in the first person, from the point of view of Tally Ho, Falleni’s moniker (according to her friend Nellie Matthews) as a child and adolescent.[2] This part, driven by the hopeful momentum of youth, follows a linear, straightforward storyline. Tally Ho is frustrated by the limited patterns the lives around her trace, and prefers to imagine that the future, and the world outside Wellington, is rich with unexplored possibilities. “As Far as He Can Remember” is told from Harry Crawford’s point of view, while “To All Outward Appearances, At Least” also focuses on Harry and Jack Crawford in Sydney, but is narrated in the third person, from the multiple points of view of neighbours, friends, a landlord, and Crawford’s step-son. In this part Crawford is a performance, but a performance in an ensemble of other performers who are less aware of the stage they tread and the costumes that adorn them. Jane Wigg as she performs her morning tea ceremony for Detective Watkins, is as much (if not more) concerned with how her gestures come across to others, as she is with the gestures of those she converses with. The characters in this part are not only performing their genders, but they are also performing their own normalcy, and in so doing define the parameters of heteronormalcy in 1917 Sydney. Set amongst the heightened mediocrity of these suburban lives, Crawford is more awkward, but also more subdued. He does not quite fit, but he is not loud enough to be noticed as a “fraud”.

“To All Outward Appearances, At Least” also centres on Nina Falleni, an Italian woman who intermittently works at a laundry in Double Bay, and has a daughter called Josephine. This chapter is largely told from the perspective of Josephine Falleni, but also Mrs DeAngelis and Marcelina Bombelli, two Italian migrants who knew Falleni as Nina. There is a nostalgic tug to this part, a yearning for what might have been. Josephine yearns for the man who might have been her father, while Nina longs to return to Wellington. The later chapters of “To All Outward Appearances, At Least” are told from the broader perspective of Sydney, in particular the police and lawyers involved in Falleni’s case, as well as the newspaper reporters and women who watched Falleni’s trial from the gallery. These chapters slip in and out of a collective first person position—the voice of "Sydney"—but the position never sits easily, as Sydney is not sure “who we are in the first place”. Here, the idea of a singular identity is troubled by shifting the frame from the individual "self", to a collective, cultural identity. This voice ultimately fractures when the narration of the trial is taken over by a collage of newspaper reports.

The final part “Some Lower Animal” is told in the first person again, this time from the perspective of Jean Ford, the persona adopted by Falleni as she lies in a coma directly after being hit by a car on Oxford Street, Paddington. Time in this section is circular, and follows the narrative logic of a lucid dream. Jean remembers her past as she told it to various journalists and doctors who visited her in prison, and the reader is left to wonder if she is remembering what happened, or simply what she said happened.

Each part is informed by a different selection of sources. “Who She Wants to Be” uses the interviews Suzanne Falkiner conducted with Falleni’s distant friends and relatives in Wellington, as well as articles published in New Zealand newspapers of the late nineteenth century. The final three parts are informed by different sources that contradict each other. “As Far As He Can Remember” uses Harry Crawford’s statement to police for its factual foundations, while “To All Outward Appearances, At Least” relies primarily on the transcript of Falleni’s trial, as well as Josephine’s statement to police for its foundation. “Some Lower Animal” refers to a similar time period (through analepsis), but uses Falleni’s Smith’s Weekly interview as its foundation, in which Falleni protested her innocence, and provided her own version of what took place over the long weekend of October 1917. No one part is intended to be presented as "more accurate" or even "more probable" than the others, only more appropriate to the perspectives they’re told from. In this way, Half Wild is a fictional biography of the sources pertaining to Falleni, more than it is a fictional biography of Falleni herself.

The reader may question whether the parts present aspects of the same over-arching fiction-world, or five alternative fiction-worlds, placed side-by-side. This is a question I have not resolved, and do not intend to resolve. For me, the contradictions, mysteries and factual aberrations that typify the various "true" accounts of Falleni’s story are intrinsic to how the person they are based on lived their lives. To resolve them would be to ignore what is most provocative and alluring about Falleni’s story: how it resonates with the common experience of being multiple, mutable, and socially determined, and how difficult it can be to reconcile our many selves.


[1] Strehle, Fiction in the Quantum Universe, 224.

[2] Falkiner, Eugenia: a man, 210.

What We Know about Eugenia Falleni, According to Historical Sources

Eugenia Falleni was born in Ardenza, Italy, on July 25, 1875.[1] At the age of two, Falleni travelled with their parents Isola and Luigi Falleni to New Zealand on board the Waikato, leaving behind a younger sister, Lisa.[2] The family first lived at Wanganui where Eugenia’s brother, Federigo, was born in 1880, and died at six months of age. Eugenia’s sister, Ida, was born in 1882. When Eugenia was around seven years of age, the family moved to Wellington where another sister, Marie Rose, was born. Isola gave birth to seven more children over the next fourteen years. Eugenia’s first brother, Alberto Gorgeo, did not survive for longer than a few months. Eugenia’s first surviving brother, Giuseppe Ilio, was born when Eugenia was eleven. Isola and Luigi are on the 1896 electoral roll as living on Coromandel St, Newtown, a working class suburb of Wellington. Isola’s occupation is listed as "household duties", while Luigi’s is listed as "fisherman".[3]

On September 16, 1891, a notice was published in the Evening Post: “NINA FALLENI, aged 15, left her home in Newtown, early on the morning of Monday, 14th inst., and has not since been heard of. Information is anxiously sought by her father and mother.”[4] Although they would have been 16 at the time, this notice is most likely in reference to Eugenia, who was, later in her life, also known as "Nina".[5]

On September 14, 1894, Ugenia Falleni [sic], 19, is registered as having married "image maker" Braseli Innocente, 31, at the registry office in Wellington. Luigi Falleni and E. Picoutti, a fishmonger, are listed as witnesses on the marriage certificate.[6]

Nine months later, in July the following year, New Zealand newspapers widely reported that an unnamed girl had been living with her parents up until nine months prior, after which she met “a specious scoundrel in Wellington, who took advantage of her innocence, and with him she went through a form of marriage.” Upon arriving in Auckland, one article states, the girl discovered that her husband already had a family to another woman, and ran away back to Wellington. There she obtained a suit of clothes, had her hair cropped, and gained employment at a drainpipe manufactory without telling her family she had returned. Outside the Opera House with her “yard mates” she was recognised by a family friend, who alerted the Salvation Army to “the facts in connection with her sad case.” She was then encouraged by the captain of the Pauline Home to take shelter there, “pending her obtaining a situation more suitable and congenial to her sex than the one she was recently rescued from.[7]

One year later, on July 29, 1896, the Wanganui Herald reported the case of “Lena Salette”, 22, who was arrested for vagrancy after dressing as a man and appealing to the Masterton Benevolent Society for work. The article states that “the young woman is the same one who was recently discovered in Wellington under similar circumstances. She was then working in a brickyard.”[8] A search of New Zealand newspapers in the twelve months prior to the publication of this article does not reveal any similar cases, other than that of the girl working in “the drainpipe manufactory” in 1895. It is highly likely both these stories are about Eugenia.

Falleni next appears in government records a little over two years later on September 19, 1898, as the mother of Josephine Falleni, born in a house on Pelham St, Double Bay, Sydney. Here, the mother is listed as “Lena Falleni,” which strengthens the connection between Eugenia Falleni and “Lena Salette” of the 1896 New Zealand papers. A Mrs De Angelis is recorded as having witnessed the birth — a woman Josephine will live with in Pelham St, call Granny, and who will “often” tell Josephine that her mother tried to smother her when she was a baby. According to Josephine’s later statement to police, on “many occasions” her mother returned to try to take her away from Mrs De Angelis.[9]

In about 1907, four-year-old Harry Birkett and his recently widowed mother Annie moved to a Dr. Clarke’s residence in Wahroonga, where Annie worked as a housekeeper for approximately six years.[10] In the last two years of her employment at Clarke’s, Annie “was often together” with Harry Leo Crawford, “a useful and kitchen man” also employed by the doctor. Annie eventually left Clarke’s to buy a confectionary shop opposite Gladstone Park on Darling St, Balmain, in 1913. Harry Birkett later stated that “Crawford also left Dr. Clarke’s about the same time and followed mother and I and subsequently took lodgings somewhere in Darling St a little lower than where we had the shop.”[11]

Harry Leon Crawford and Annie Birkett married at the Methodist church in Balmain on 19 February 1913. The marriage was witnessed by Annie Birkett’s sister, Lily Nugent, and the minister’s wife. Harry Carwford’s parents are given as Harry Leo Crawford, master mariner, and Louisa Buti — the surname of Falleni’s grandmother via her second husband, Vincienzo Buti.[12]

On May 27, 1914, Josephine De Angelis (then 15) is mentioned in the NSW Police Gazette as the complainant for the arrest of Jack Coroneo, “charged with failing to make adequate provision for the payment of preliminary expenses of and incidental to and immediately succeeding the birth of an infant.” He is described as being “a Greek, recently employed at Woodward’s oyster saloon, King-street, City.”[13] Her address is given as “3 Hoppman’s-lane, Balmain”, which matches the address of Mrs Keith, a woman Josephine mentions in her statement to police in 1917. According to her statement, she lived with Mrs Keith “around the time she had some trouble” and afterwards went to “St Margaret’s Home”, a maternity home for unwed mothers.[14] According to the Police Gazette, Josephine was living in Balmain in May of 1914, however, according to Josehine’s statement she moved to Balmain in the latter part of 1914, and according to her baby’s death certificate, the infant died at the Shaftesbury Home in Vaucluse on December 10, 1914, aged three months.[15]

In 1920 Harry Birkett recalled that about six months after Annie and Crawford were married, Annie sold the shop and she and her son moved in with her sister, Lily Nugent, in Kogarah for a few weeks before moving in to their own place nearby.[16] However, Josephine recalled that the whole family, including Josephine, “went to Kogarah to live” after she had returned from St Margaret’s in 1914.[17]

In 1915, Crawford was employed at Perdriau’s rubber factory and the family moved to Drummoyne — first to a brick residence at No.7 The Avenue, then, in January 1917, the family moved to a weatherboard house at No.5 next door.[18]

In 1916 Harry Birkett was permanently employed by Mr and Mrs Bone, who ran a grocery store on the street corner of Lyons Rd and The Avenue, Drummoyne. Annie Birkett would also occasionally “do domestic duties” for Mrs Bone when her maid was away on holidays. Harry continued to work for the Bones up until September 29, 1917.[19]

The Crawfords’ neighbour Mrs Jane Wigg reported that she last saw Mrs Crawford before lunch on the Friday before the Eight Hour Day [September 28, 1917][20]. On the Saturday afternoon “previous to the Eight Hour Day”, Crawford asked his friend and neighbour Lydia Parnell to mind two rings for his wife, “as his wife had threatened to run away with a plumber and he said those rings were his property as he bought them for her.”[21] He told Parnell that his wife was not satisfied with him because he was out of employment.[22] Harry Birkett’s employer, Ernest Bone, saw Crawford on Lyons Rd, Drummoyne, on Saturday October 29.[23] Lydia Parnell saw Crawford again “on Eight Hour Day [Monday October 1] coming from the tram terminus towards his home.” She estimated “that would be between 7-15 and 7-45 in the evening.”[24] Harry Birkett returned from a holiday at Collaroy with Mrs Bone on Monday October 1, to find Harry Crawford “sitting on a chair there and a bottle of Johnny Walker whisky was there and a small glass.” When Harry Birkett asked where his mother was, Crawford first replied that he did not know, and then replied that “she [had] gone to North Sydney with a Mrs Murray and her daughter.”[25]

On Tuesday morning Harry Birkett woke up to find that “the whiskey had practically disappeared from the bottle” and it seemed as if Crawford had not gone to bed.[26] Birkett went to work, and Crawford went to the Parnell’s house, where Lydia Parnell made him breakfast. He told Lydia Parnell that he was upset, that he didn’t know where his wife could have gone, and decided the best thing to do was to “get rid of the home.”[27]

At around noon on Wednesday October 3, Crawford paid his grocery account with Mrs Bone, and told her that his wife had gone away with another man. The household furniture was sold and removed by Joel Hart on the same day[28].

Either on Wednesday October 3 or shortly after, Crawford moved into a boarding house in Woolloomooloo, run by a German woman called Henrietta Schieblich. Crawford gave the name “Jack” and took a front room with two single beds, one for his stepson, who arrived the following day.[29] At one point during Crawford’s stay, Henrietta Schieblich found him breaking up boxes containing “some beautiful washing linen, and lace, and curtains and things,” with an axe. On October 16, Crawford asked Harry Birkett to read him an article in the Evening News about a pair of shoes found on a burned woman on the banks of the lane Cove River. A few days afterwards Crawford took Harry Birkett out of the house during a thunder storm. They left at 6 pm and did not return until 11 pm. According to Henrietta Schieblich, “when they came back they were very wet and covered all over with sand.” After this night “the boy went to Italian people”[30].

Marcellina Bombelli, who lived at 156 Cathedral St, Sydney, later testified that “the accused brought the boy to my house. I don’t remember the date or the day, but I know it was in November, 1917….The accused asked me would I take this boy into my house because his father was dead and his mother was ill in hospital the accused thought with consumption. The boy remained with me nearly one year.” In March 1919 Harry Birkett moved into a house in San Souci with Marcellina’s son, Frank Bombelli.[31] At some point between the end of 1917 and 1920 Harry Birkett and Harry Crawford lost contact.

Harry Crawford was a frequent visitor at his friend Lydia Parnell’s house up until March 1918.[32] He attended parties with Lydia’s friend Emma Belbin, who saw him often, and wrote two letters for him. Crawford told her that his wife had gone to the country, that she used to drink and he would not have her back.[33] Before Easter 1918, he moved into a boarding house next door to Alice Maud Gough, on Merton St, Rozelle. According to Gough, Crawford told her “that his wife was a drunkard and when he came home from work that the crockery used to be all broken up and there was no meal ready, no tea ready.” When Gough knew Crawford, “he worked at different places, he never stopped in a place long.”[34] Between the end of 1917 and 1919, Crawford returned to Henrietta Schieblich’s boarding house four times. On one occasion, he showed her that his finger was missing, and told her it had been cut off at the Balmain meatworks. On another occasion he said he was living with his wife again on the North Shore, “and she was heavy drinking… and he could not stand it anymore and he left her in North Shore with the stepson.”[35] On yet another occasion he “brought a lady to the house”, and told Schieblich that she was “well educated, and had money too”.[36]

Harry Leo Crawford and Elizabeth King Allison were married at the Canterbury Registrar’s Office on September 29, 1919.[37] At around the same time Frank Bombelli saw Crawford working at Richardson’s Hotel, near Central Station.[38] Harry Birkett subsequently went to find Crawford at Richardson’s “to see if he had heard anything about Mother.” Crawford told Birkett he was too busy to speak, but suggested Birkett return the following day. When Birkett did, Crawford “had left the hotel” and Birkett did not see him again until after Crawford’s arrest.[39]

On June 13, 1920, Harry Birkett gave a statement to police, informing them that his mother had gone missing on Friday 28, 1917, and that on the subsequent Wednesday his stepfather, Harry Leo Crawford, had taken him on a one-way ferry ride to the Gap where Crawford asked him “to come inside the fence and throw stones also and see them land in the water.”[40] In the same statement he told police that while he and Crawford were staying at “Mrs Shipleys” in Woolloomooloo, Crawford had returned home one night with a newspaper, and said he had heard something in town about a murder.[41] Birkett also stated to police that a few days after he had read the article, Crawford took him to a vacant lot in Bellevue Hill to dig holes “some three or four feet wide and longer,” and about “three or four feet deep” in the sand during a thunderstorm.[42]

At about 11:30 am on July 5, 1920, Detective-Sergeant Stuart Robson and Detective Bill Watkins went to the Empire Hotel, on the corner of Johnson St and Parramatta Rd, Annandale. The two detectives spoke to Harry Crawford in the office of the licensee, and then took Crawford to the detective office “to make further investigations.”[43] At C.I.B. Sydney, Harry Crawford gave a voluntary statement in which he claimed he was a Scottish man and afterwards assented to a medical examination (after first refusing) which confirmed for the police that Crawford was a woman.[44] After confirming with police that “her” identity was “Eugene Falleni”, Falleni was taken to their residence, where the police made a search. According to Robson, Lizzie Crawford was present and crying.[45] According to Sergeant Armfield, Lizzie Crawford was not home at the time of the search.[46] They found a locked portmanteau which contained a suit of man’s clothes, a revolver with two discharged cartridges, and a dildo. According to Robson, when he asked Crawford if his first wife knew “that you were using anything like this,” Crawford replied, “no, not till about the latter part of our marriage…. I think somebody had been talking.” The police then took Falleni back to the Central Police Station and charged “Eugene Falleni” with the murder of Annie Birkett.[47]

The police sought three remands — on July 6, July 21 and July 29 — at the local police court on Liverpool St.[48] On July 14 Josephine Falleni/ De Angelis was traced by police as living in Harris St, Pyrmont. She gave a statement to the police, excerpts from which were published in the Evening News, the Daily Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald and Truth as part of the coverage of the third day of Falleni’s committal hearing.[49] On July 22, Falleni was identified by Jabez James Hicks, a former employee of the Cumberland Paper Mills, in a line up. Hicks stated that he had seen the accused on the morning of Friday 28 September, 1917, in the scrub near where a burned body—suspected to be Annie Birkett’s—was found.[50] The police then took the accused and Hicks to the location, and Hicks indicated where he had seen the accused. Falleni said they had never been there before, but later said that they had briefly worked at the cornflour mill on the far bank of the river.[51] On July 29, Eliel Irene Carroll also identified the accused in a line up. Carroll had told police that while walking through the scrub on her way to the paper mills on Friday 28 September, 1917, she had seen the accused sitting on a rock with his face in his hands.[52] Before they had made their identifications, both Hicks and Carroll had seen a photograph of the accused taken after their arrest, published in The Sun newspaper.[53]

Falleni’s committal hearing took place over three days: Monday August 16, Wednesday August 18, and Thursday August 19, 1920. Falleni was represented by Maddocks Cohen, and Roderick Kidston represented the Crown.[54] On the first day of the hearing the magistrate Mr Gale, “escorted across the bench and into the court Mr. Graham Browne and Miss Marie Tempest, the well-known actor and actress. They occupied seats adjacent to the solicitors' table, and appeared keenly interested in the proceedings.”[55] Two witnesses appeared at the hearing who did not subsequently appear at Falleni’s trial in October: Lily May Hewitt, who testified that she saw smoke rise from the alleged murder site at 4 pm on Monday October 1, 1917, and Josephine Falleni, who cried throughout giving evidence, contradicted her original statement to police, and was finally put on the record as being a hostile witness.[56] "Eugene Falleni" was “committed to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court [Darlinghurst] on August 30, 1920”, but did not stand trial until Tuesday October 5.[57]

At her trial, Falleni was represented by junior barrister Archibald McDonell instructed by Maddocks Cohen, and the Crown was represented by W. T. Coyle KC instructed by John Gonsalves.[58] After a two day trial, the jury issued a verdict of guilty and Chief Justice Sir William Cullen passed the death sentence.[59] Falleni appealed against their conviction six weeks later, but was unsuccessful.[60] On November 30, 1920, a State Cabinet meeting decided to commute Falleni’s death sentence to life imprisonment.[61]

Josephine married Arthur Whitby on August 18, 1920, the day before she was due to appear at her mother’s committal hearing.[62] They had a child, Rita Josephine, on November 20, 1921, and by December 1922, Josephine and her daughter, then living in Lakemba, had been deserted.[63] Josephine died on 19 December, 1924.[64] The funeral notice read:

WHITBY.—The Relatives and Friends of Mr. ARTHUR RAYMOND WHITBY, of 54 Darlington-road, Darlington, are kindly invited to attend the Funeral of his beloved WIFE Josephine Rita; to leave the Mortuary Station, Regent-street, city, THIS DAY, at 2.55, for Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood.[65]

Falleni was known at Long Bay as "Jean Falleni.[66]" She was joined at the prison by the only other woman serving time for murder, Dorothy Mort, in April 1921.[67] Dorothy Mort and Jean Falleni became “close friends”, and the cases of the two were often compared in the press.[68] In 1921 a Mrs Webb served a brief amount of time in the women’s penitentiary at Long Bay, and commented that Mrs Mort was “provided with special rooms, and the other prisoners [were] not allowed to converse with her, while Falleni was placed in with the general prisoners”.[69] Jean Falleni was said to have “many friends in gaol,” and was “more popular than … Dorothy Mort whom the other girls out there said ‘gave herself airs’”.[70]

Two years into her life sentence, Jean was reported to have been removed to the Coast Hospital “in the grip of an agonising cancer of the stomach”.[71] Six weeks later Truth hinted that she may have attempted suicide, when they reported that “The prison authorities, immediately they discover suicidal tendencies in inmates, have them guarded day and night. A recent illustration is furnished by the case of the 'Man-Woman' Falleni.”[72]

In 1928 an interview with murder suspect Mrs Chapman was published by Truth. Mrs Chapman and her son Chuey spent time at Long Bay Gaol in the lead up to her trial, and said of Falleni:

'Eugene Falleni was there. She used to amuse Chuey — she loved him. He had to go to the Coast Hospital for chicken-pox. When they took him away she cried herself to sleep. She has been there for nine years now.

'She is fifty-seven and looks an old woman. She looks after the fernery and feeds the birds. She's very active, buzzing about like a bee in a bottle.

'I thought a lot of her. She is trusted by the officers, too.’[73]

Falleni was visited in prison by Dr. Herbert Michael Moran in 1929, at the suggestion of Coyle KC, the prosecuting lawyer at her trial.[74] Moran was fluent in Italian, and at the time “had foolish ideas of getting her returned to her native country.” Falleni did not tell him anything that had not already appeared in the papers, and “always affirmed her innocence”. In his book, Viewless Winds (1939), Moran is the first to explicitly claim that Falleni had been raped on board a ship en route to NSW when he writes that the captain had “surprised the secret of her sex” and “used her violently”. Moran also refers to a “ridiculous little sentimental liaison in gaol with another murderess,” which Falkiner and Tedeschi have taken to be Dorothy Mort[75].

Following Mort’s release in October, 1929, Falleni became despondent and was promoted to Mort’s old job as prison librarian, suggesting that by now she had learned to read.[76] In March 1930, Falleni gave her first interview and account of events that took place in 1917. Speaking to Smith’s Weekly journalist J. D. Corbett, Falleni again maintained her innocence.[77] Two months later, Falleni, hosted a Mother’s Day tea at Long Bay.[78]

Falleni was released from prison on the evening of Wednesday 18 February, 1931, after the Attorney General, Joe Lamaro, personally interviewed her in prison.[79]

Three years after her release, Falleni took an Italian woman with severe breast cancer to visit Dr Moran. She asked Moran to keep her past a secret from the woman, whose house she had ben working in as “useful help,” but Moran later learned that the woman knew of Falleni’s past and had taken her in as an act of charity. A few weeks later Falleni visited the doctor again, requesting his help on an invalid pension application. He gave her the necessary certificate, but her application was denied.[80]

From 1934 - 1938 she conducted business on an almost daily basis with chef and residential proprietor William Thornton. During this time Falleni ran a “residential” at 27 Glenmore Rd as Jean Ford. On 9 June 1938, Ford sold the residential at Glenmore Rd for £105. Thornton signed the contract of sale on her behalf as, Thornton said, “she could neither read nor write.” At 8pm that evening, with £100 in her bag, Ford suddenly stepped down from a high curb onto Oxford St, lost her balance, looked to the left instead of the right, and was struck by a car driven by William Lamb, a carpenter from Bexley. She was taken to Sydney Hospital where she passed away from the associated injuries on either June 9 or 10, 1938. The police received a report from a woman suggesting that Ford might be Falleni, and sent Detective-Sergeant Watkins, present at her arrest 18 years earlier, to take her fingerprints. The prints confirmed the identity of Ford as Eugenia Falleni.[81]

Jean Ford’s funeral was held at 2pm on Saturday June 11.[82]

At an inquest into the motor accident, Thornton said, “'On one occasion she told me her name was Eugene Falleni, that she was born in Italy, and was taken when six months' old to New Zealand. From New Zealand she went to England. She spoke of being in England at Queen Victoria's Jubilee [presumably the diamond jubilee in 1897]. So far as I know she had no relatives in Australia.” Police informed the inquest that her granddaughter [Rita] was said to be living in a convent in Narrellan.[83]

[1] Ardenza is given as Falleni’s birthplace by their sister-in-law to Suzanne Falkiner in 1987. [Falkiner, Eugenia: a man, 215]; 25/7/1875 is given as Falleni’s birthdate in SRNSW: NRS 2496 [3/6006 p.499, 1920]. Tedeschi and Falkiner both claim Falleni was born in January 1875, though they do not provide a reference for this date.

[2] "Many Years in New Zealand." Evening Post, May 6 1933, 11. paperspast.natlib.govt.nz; Falkiner, Eugenia: a man, 215.

[3] Wanganui is listed as the place of birth of Federigo and Ida Falleni. New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, Federigo death cert [1880/3173]; Ida [1882/2334]; Marie Rose [1883/10995]; Emelia Maria [1885/6261]; Giuseppe Ilio [1886/15598]; Gimi Alfredo [1889/12839]; Louis Hermandos [1892/13636]; Alberto Gorgeo [1894/17801]; Anita Mary [1895/13338]; Lily Falleni [1897/1709]; [1894/2935]; Wellington Suburbs Electoral Roll, 1896, 97.

[4] "Missing Friends." Evening Post, September 16 1891, 3. paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

[5] Marcellina Bombelli, in Eugenia’s trial, says she knows the accused “under the name of Nina”. Rex v. Falleni, 1920, 55.

[6] New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, 1894/ 2338

[7] "A Bigamous Marriage. A Woman Disguises Herself as a Boy." Marlborough Express, July 24 1895, 4. paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

[8] "An Extraordinary Case." Wanganui Herald, July 29 1896, 2. paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

[9] Registry of Births, deaths and Marriages, 36114/1898; "Man-Woman's Daughter; Her Relations with Mrs Birkett; Things She Never Told; Falleni's Statement to Police." Evening News, August 19 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[10] Harry Birkett Snr died in 1906, although he may have been estranged from his wife, as he died in Newcastle, and according to Harry Birkett, prior to working for Dr Clarke she had worked for Judge Curlewis in North Sydney. Department of Justice NSW, 2274/1906.

[11] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 1.

[12] Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 867/1913; Falkiner, 2014, 217.

[13] “Deserting Wives and Families, Service, etc” N.S.W. Police Gazette, May 27 1914, 255. Ancestry.com.

[14] "The 'Man-Woman'. Annie Birkett's Death. Eugene Falleni at Chatswood. 'Melancholy'; and the Mystery of the Moat. A Trip to the Gap, and Some Holes at Woollahra." Truth, August 22 1920, 10.

[15] Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, 16305/1914

[16] Birkett, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 4.

[17] "Man-Woman's Daughter; Her Relations with Mrs Birkett; Things She Never Told; Falleni's Statement to Police." Evening News, August 19 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[18] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 2; Birkett, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 11.

[19] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 2. Also Bone, C. Rex v Eugene Falleni, 38. Although according to Harry Birkett’s statement he continued to work up until Tuesday October 2, 1917.

[20] Wigg, Rex. v. Eugene Falleni, 43.

[21] Parnell, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 55.

[22] "Mrs. Birkett's Death; Doctors Say Probably Burned Alive; Theories About Cracks in Skull; Eugene Falleni's Haggard Looks." Evening News, August 18 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[23] Bone, E. Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 41.

[24] Parnell, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 54.

[25] Birkett, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 5.

[26] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 2.

[27] Parnell, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 54-5.

[28] Bone, C. Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 39; Hart, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 45.

[29] At the trial Henrietta Schieblich testified that Crawford moved in “on the second of third day after the murder was done with that lady in Chatswood. I saw something in a paper.” Schieblich, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 64.

[30] Schieblich, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 64 - 66; Birkett, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 8. The article in question: "Chatswood Mystery. Woman Not yet Identified. Who Patched the Shoes?" Evening News, October 16 1917, 3. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[31] Bombelli, M. Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 55; Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 6.

[32] Parnell, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 56.

[33] Belbin, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 47.

[34] Gaugh, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 70-1.

[35] Schieblich, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 70; 67.

[36] "Mrs. Birkett's Death; Doctors Say Probably Burned Alive; Theories About Cracks in Skull; Eugene Falleni's Haggard Looks." Evening News, August 18 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[37] Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 8873/1919.

[38] On June 13, 1920, Harry Birkett mentions he saw Crawford at Richardson’s Hotel eight or nine months prior. Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 6.

[39] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 6.

[40] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 2; 3.

[41] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 5.

[42] Birkett, Papers and Depositions, 5.

[43] Robson, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 79.

[44] "Man-Woman's Daughter; Her Relations with Mrs Birkett; Things She Never Told; Falleni's Statement to Police." Evening News, August 19 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.; Robson, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 81.

[45] Robson, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 83.

[46] Kelly, Rugged Angel, 147.

[47] Robson, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 83.

[48] "Man-Woman in Court. Murder of Annie Birkett. Crowds to See Masquerader. Bail Not Asked For." Evening News, July 6 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.; "Current News." Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, July 15 1920, 4. Trove.nla.gov.au; "Falleni Case." Sydney Morning Herald, July 30 1920, 6. Trove.nla.gov.au..

[49] "Man-Woman's Daughter; Her Relations with Mrs Birkett; Things She Never Told; Falleni's Statement to Police." Evening News, August 19 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.; "Eugene Falleni. Daughter in the Box. Treated as a Hostile Witness." Daily Telegraph, August 20 1920, 9; "Falleni Case. Daughter in Court. Accused Committed for Trial.". Sydney Morning Herald, August 20 1920, 10; "The 'Man-Woman'. Annie Birkett's Death. Eugene Falleni at Chatswood. 'Melancholy'; and the Mystery of the Moat. A Trip to the Gap, and Some Holes at Woollahra." Truth, August 22 1920, 10.

[50] Hicks, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 47.

[51] Robson, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 84. Also Walsh, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 74-5.

[52] Carroll, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 35.

[53] Hicks, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 49. Carroll, Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 36-7.

[54] "Man-Woman in Court; Did Falleni Murder Mrs. Birkett? Deceased's Son's Strange Tale; His Wanderings with Step-‘Father’" Evening News, August 16 1920, 5. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[55] "Box Seats at Murder Trial." Sunday Times, August 22 1920, 4.

[56] "Man-Woman Case. Third Day's Evidence. Court Again Crowded. The Fire in the Bush." The Sun, August 19 1920; "Man-Woman's Daughter; Her Relations with Mrs Birkett; Things She Never Told; Falleni's Statement to Police." Evening News, August 19 1920, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[57] "Eugene Falleni. Daughter in the Box. Treated as a Hostile Witness." Daily Telegraph, August 20 1920, 9.

[58] "Falleni on Trial. Lane Cove Tragedy. Accused in Women’s Clothes. The Crown Case." The Sun, October 5 1920, 7.

[59] Rex v. Eugene Falleni, 91.

[60] "Court of Criminal Appeal." Sydney Morning Herald, November 13 1920, 9. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[61] "Death Sentence Commuted." Sydney Morning Herald, December 1 1920, 11. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[62] Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 13226/1920.

[63] “Deserting Wives and Families, Service, etc” N.S.W. Police Gazette, November 15 1922, 625. Ancestry.com.

[64] "Family Notices." The Sydney Morning Herald, December 20 1924, 12. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[65] ”Family Notices." The Sydney Morning Herald, December 20 1924, 11. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[66] Corbett, J. D. "Man-Woman Eugene Fallini Makes Appeal for Freedom; Tells Her Poignant Story to “Smith’s Weekly”; Frail Prisoner Is Pathetic Figure in Gaol; Has No “Friends, Money, or Even Influence”" Smith's Weekly, March 8 1930, 1.

[67] Although there was little doubt Dorothy Mort had killed Dr Claude Tozer, she was deemed ‘not guilty’ on the grounds of insanity, and incarcerated at Long Bay Gaol ‘at the governor’s pleasure’. Tedeschi, Eugenia, 202.

[68] Corbett, J. D. "Man-Woman Eugene Fallini Makes Appeal for Freedom; Tells Her Poignant Story to “Smith’s Weekly”; Frail Prisoner Is Pathetic Figure in Gaol; Has No “Friends, Money, or Even Influence”" Smith's Weekly, March 8 1930, 1.

[69] "Local and General. Prison Treatment." Tweed Daily, July 16 1921, 7. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[70] "Class Conscious Prisoners out at 'the Bay', Women Who Have Gone Wrong and Women Wronged. Ethel Benn. Famous Female Criminals and Treatment Behind Drab Prison Walls. Edith Ashton. For the Love of Love and Some Man!" Truth, August 10 1930, 11. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[71] "Odds and Ends." Freemason's Journal, May 25 1922, 22. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[72] "Young Woman's Death. Suicides in a Hospital Ward. Is There Any Suppression of a Previous Attempt?". Truth, July 9 1922, 7.

[73] "Mrs. Trapman Tells of Life in Long Bay; 'I Had a Happy Time out There'; Met Mrs. Mort and Man-Woman Eugene Falleni, Gaol's Famous Inmates; Mother Was Sold at Sixteen for £500." Truth, November 11 1928, 1.

[74] Moran gives Falleni’s age at the time of his visit as 54, placing the event in 1929. Moran, Viewless Winds, 234.

[75] Moran, Viewless Winds, 233; 235; 232; 243; 249.

[76] "One of Strangest Women Criminals Known to World Set Free." Truth, February 22 1931, 1. Trove.nla.gov.au; "Class Conscious Prisoners out at 'the Bay', Women Who Have Gone Wrong and Women Wronged. Ethel Benn. Famous Female Criminals and Treatment Behind Drab Prison Walls. Edith Ashton. For the Love of Love and Some Man!" Truth, August 10 1930, 11. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[77] Corbett, J. D. "Man-Woman Eugene Fallini Makes Appeal for Freedom; Tells Her Poignant Story to “Smith’s Weekly”; Frail Prisoner Is Pathetic Figure in Gaol; Has No “Friends, Money, or Even Influence”" Smith's Weekly, March 8 1930, 1.

[78] "Eugene Falleni, Man-Woman, Acts as Hostess." Truth, May 18 1930, 15. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[79] "Was Eugene Falleni Guilty of Murder? Noted Criminologist Who Had Grave Doubts; Woman Freed from Gaol." Evening News, February 19 1931, 5. Trove.nla.gov.au.; "One of Strangest Women Criminals Known to World Set Free." Truth, February 22 1931, 1. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[80] Moran, Viewless Winds, 250.

[81] "Curtain on Man-Woman. Falleni Inquest." Truth, July 3 1938, 19. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[82] "Funerals." Sydney Morning Herald, June 11 1938, 15. Trove.nla.gov.au.

[83] "Curtain on Man-Woman. Falleni Inquest." Truth, July 3 1938, 19. Trove.nla.gov.au.