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Open Invitation: Adelaide launch of The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner

April 28, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm


Everyone is welcome at the launch The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner by Sisters in Crime member, Dr Samantha Battams.

Dr Battams will be in conversation with Jessie Byrne,  Sisters in Crime member and PhD Candidate Adelaide University

Sunday 28 April – 1.45pm for 2pm start.

Carclew Ballroom, 11 Jeffcott St, North Adelaide. Drinks available.

Bookings: Please email samanthabattams@gmail.com or RSVP via the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/605040596616378/


More on the book & author:

How did a serial killer from the 19th century almost get away with murder?

At the end of the 19th century, Martha Needle became known as ‘The Black Widow’ of the Richmond poisoning case after secretly poisoning her husband and children.

The Black Widow was a media sensation in her day, as infamous as Ned Kelly (even sharing the same lawyer). After poisoning her husband and two of her children, Needle became obsessed with the kind-hearted son of a Danish immigrant and began picking off his brothers one by one. Reported as far afield as the New York Times, Martha’s story was front page news in Australia, edging out many stories of the day that remain in the public consciousness today. And yet very few remember Martha Needle’s name.

Stranger still a generation later Martha Needle’s nephew Alexander Lee seemed to follow in his aunt’s footsteps when he poisoned his wife and three of his children.

What strange quirk of fate led these two relatives connected through family to commit virtually the same crime? And was their fate at the end of a rope the true end of the story?

This story explores these crimes and the social and historical context surrounding them.

About Samantha Battams

Dr Samantha Battams is an Associate Professor and has been a university lecturer, researcher, community development worker, advocate, health service administrator and management consultant. Samantha resides in Adelaide, is widely travelled and has lived and worked in Switzerland in global health. She has published academic articles and book chapters in the fields of public health and global health, social policy and sociology. She has a passion for history and writing and has written a self-published family history and co-authored published articles and a forthcoming work of history with Les Parsons (The Red Devil, 2019).



Carclew Ballroom
11 Jeffcott Street
North Adelaide, SA 5006 Australia
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