Women, Crime and the Courts: Hong Kong 1841-1941

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By Patricia O’Sullivan

 

Kwan Lai-chun was sick of being made to feel second-class by her husband’s concubine; sick of her mother-in-law’s endless carping about the money she spent; sick of the whole family. Late one sticky, humid night, something snapped in her – and she grabbed the meat chopper. Within minutes, three people were dead: the concubine with over 70 gashes, many of them to the bone.

Kwan was found guilty and became the second and last woman in Hong Kong to suffer the death penalty. But behind her story, and those of the city’s other female murderers, lie complex webs of relationships and jealousies, poverty and despair.

Taking the first 100 years of Hong Kong’s colonial history, this book unravels the lives of women – Chinese and Westerners alike – who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Hong Kong’s female prison population was a tiny fraction of that in Britain or America, but there are still plenty of tales from its women kidnappers, smugglers, bomb-makers, thieves and cruel mistresses.

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Introduction 

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Description

Kwan Lai-chun was sick of being made to feel second-class by her husband’s concubine; sick of her mother-in-law’s endless carping about the money she spent; sick of the whole family. Late one sticky, humid night, something snapped in her – and she grabbed the meat chopper. Within minutes, three people were dead: the concubine with over 70 gashes, many of them to the bone. Kwan was found guilty and became the second and last woman in Hong Kong to suffer the death penalty. But behind her story, and those of the city’s other female murderers, lie complex webs of relationships and jealousies, poverty and despair.

Taking the first 100 years of Hong Kong’s colonial history, this book unravels the lives of women – Chinese and Westerners alike – who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Hong Kong’s female prison population was a tiny fraction of that in Britain or America, but there are still plenty of tales from its women kidnappers, smugglers, bomb-makers, thieves and cruel mistresses.

Additional information

Weight500 g
Dimensions140 × 216 mm
Pages

360

Binding

Paperback

Illustrations

B&W images

About the author

Patricia O’Sullivan is a writer and researcher on the lesser-known aspects of Hong Kong’s history prior to 1941. Stumbling upon an article concerning the death of her great-uncle in 1918 when he was an inspector in the Hong Kong Police, she quickly became immersed in the social history of colonial Hong Kong. Her research led to her first book, Policing Hong Kong: An Irish History.

As a specialist recorder teacher, in a career spanning three decades and more, she has had the joy both of introducing thousands of children to music and developing the skills and musicianship of senior students to diploma level and beyond. Now she has scaled down this side of her life to give more time to writing – and to spend more time in Hong Kong doing the research.

Her new book is about some of the criminal women of early 20th-century Hong Kong: smugglers, arsonists, murderers and one ‘neighbour from hell’. Patricia’s website is at www.socialhistoryhk.com.