Stella Budrikis has written a fascinating murder mystery-cum social history of Perth during the early years of the twentieth century.
The Edward Street Baby Farm tells the true story of the sensational murder trial over the death of baby Booth. It focuses on three main characters, Alice Mitchell, Dr Ned Office and Harriet Lenihan.
Alice Mitchell became a registered child nurse at a time when all that was required was a reference attesting to good character. What transpires leaves the reader astonished at the ‘care’ she provided.
Dr Ned Officer, an Aussie rules footy star and highly popular medico who provided regular oversight of the children, emerges unscathed from the trial. However, the Lady Health Inspector, Harriet Lenihan, a musician from Limerick in Ireland, was vilified by the media.
The most appalling revelation of the book is that baby Booth’s death was not an isolated incident. Dozens of babies died under the combined gaze of Mrs Mitchell, Dr Officer and Miss Lenihan.
Stella Budrikis has meticulously researched Baby Farm relying on primary sources to tell a compelling story – a rare achievement.
Baby Farm will be published by Fremantle Press in October 2020.
You can order your copy of Baby Farm online now for $32.99.
The Shipping News’ Editor, Michael Barker, was most fortunate to be able to discuss the book with the author, how it came to be, and many of the issues it raises.
Our podcast provides a great introduction to the book.