In 1895 Minnie Dean became the only woman hanged by law in New Zealand. Her crime was child murder. According to folklore she killed babies with hat pins and threw their bodies into streams. It is said that nothing will grow on her grave.
Minnie Dean was New Zealand's most famous child care worker. Her business of caring for illegitimate babies was an unwelcome reminder to righteous Victorians that their campaign for the suppression of fornication was a dismal failure. Some 'bastards' were killed or abandoned at birth, others were cared for by women like Minnie Dean.
In this stunning book the award-winning biographer of Sylvia Ashton-Warner leads the reader through the labyrinth of myths and legends to the real Minnie Dean and raises some disturbing questions. Was Minnie Dean guilty as charged, or did the weight of public condemnation press heavily enough on the police, the judge and the juries involved to unbalance the scales of justice? Was the Winton baby farmer a mercenary cold-blooded killer? Or a scapegoat sacrificed at the altar of Victorian hypocrisy?