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The Adventures of a Victorian Con Woman (Hardback)

The Life and Crimes of Mrs Gordon Baillie

British History True Crime P&S History Social History Women of History Victorian Era

By Mick Davis, David Lassman
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 360
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526764867
Published: 30th November 2020

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RRP £19.99

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'The story of Mrs. Gordon Baillie is stranger than anything to be met with in the field of fiction.'

Mrs. Gordon Baillie, known throughout her life as Annie, was born in the direst poverty in the small Scottish fishing town of Peterhead in 1848. Illegitimate and illiterate her beauty and intelligence nevertheless enabled her to overcome her circumstances and become a charming and wealthy socialite living a life of luxury whilst raising money for worthy causes and charitable works.

Behind her supposed perfect and contented life, however, lay one of the most notorious and compulsive swindlers of the Victorian Age. Her fraudulent fundraising and larger-than-life schemes played out across four decades and three continents, Europe, America and Australasia, and involved land owners crofters, aristocrats, politicians, bankers, socialist revolutionaries, operatic stars and the cultural icons of the day.

She became mistress to a rich aristocrat, married a world-renowned male opera singer and later took as a lover a vicar's son with anarchist tendencies. For most of her 'career' she kept one step ahead of the law and her nemesis, Inspector Henry Marshall of Scotland Yard, but finally becoming undone through her own compulsion for petty theft, despite her amassed fortune.

During her life she used more than 40 aliases, produced four children and spent her way through millions of ill-gotten pounds, dollars and other currencies. But at the turn of the twentieth century, her notoriety was such that she took refuge in America and disappeared from history.

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About Mick Davis

Mick Davis spent many years working in the criminal law before retiring with his wife Lorraine to Frome in Somerset where he pursues his interest in restoring historic buildings, local history and archaeology. He now spends his time researching and writing full time. His first book was The Historic Inns of Frome and his collaboration with David Lassman has so far produced The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts and Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around Frome, both published by Pen and Sword. Current projects include a survey of the prehistoric barrows of North Somerset.


 David Lassman

About David Lassman

David Lassman began his writing career freelancing for newspapers and magazines, before studying screenwriting at Bournemouth University. He spent three and a half years on a Greek island writing his first novel, is author of Frome in the Great War and co-created the ‘Regency Detective’ series with Terence James. His collaborations with Mick Davis include The Awful Killing of Sarah Watts, one of the most infamous crimes of the Victorian period and Visitors’ Historic Britain: Somerset.

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