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Murder, Misadventure And Miserable Ends

Most of us today rarely see a dead body. In nineteenth-century Sydney, when health was precarious and workplaces and the busy city streets were often dangerous, witnessing a death was rather common. And any death that was sudden or suspicious would be investigated by the coroner. Henry Shiell was the Sydney City Coroner from 1866 to 1889. In the course of his unusually long career he delved into the lives, loves, crimes, homes and workplaces of his fellow Sydneysiders. He learned of envies, infidelities, passions, and loyalties, and just how short, sad and violent some lives were. But his court was also, at times, instrumental in calling for new laws and regulations to make life safer. Catie Gilchrist explores this nineteenth-century city as a treacherous place of seedy streets and rowdy hotels, crowded wharves and dangerous industries. With few safety regulations, the colourful city was also a place of frequent inquests, silent morgues and solemn graveyards. This is the story of life and death in colonial Sydney.

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