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Dr Lucy Sussex

Biography and exhibition: The mean streets of Old Melbourne: The crime writing and true crime of Mary and George Fortune

Lucy's project researched the lives and times of Mary Fortune (c. 1833–1911), a pioneering detective author who wrote 500 Australian crime stories under the pseudonyms of Waif Wander and WW.

Mary and her habitually criminal son Eastbourne Vaudrey, aka George (1856–1907), represent a unique intersection of crime fiction and true crime, and present an unprecedented view of the violent and seedy side of colonial Victoria.

Mother and son were both in trouble with the law: Mary for alcoholism, homelessness and consorting with criminals; George as a vagrant child progressing to bank robber. Yet for over 40 years, Mary was proudly independent, maintaining a living from writing and described as 'the only truly bohemian lady writer' of Marvellous Melbourne.

Research undertaken for this project resulted in a biography of the Fortunes, their lives and times in colonial Victoria, and a virtual/exhibition of the outcomes from their story.

Dr Lucy Sussex is a freelance writer, editor, researcher and reviewer. She has an MA in Librarianship and a PhD from the University of Wales, Cardiff.

Lucy's award-winning work includes edited anthologies, novels and short fiction collections. She has researched and published extensively on subjects such as colonial ships' diaries (published as Saltwater in the ink, 2010), early female crime writers and Blockbuster (on Fergus Hume and his crime novel Mystery of a hansom cab), which won the 2015 Victorian Community History Award.