The Hanging of Jean Lee
by Jordie Albiston
genre Crime · Poetry
In 1951, Jean Lee was Australia’s last woman hanged. Award-winning poet Jordie Albiston’s acclaimed verse novel puts this woman’s tragic story within the context of her times.
‘As one might expect, it is a grim, tough story of the deterioration of a young woman’s life and its brutal end. It is divided into four sections with deliberately cold-hearted titles: Personal Pages, Entertainment Section, Crime Supplement and Death Notices. The Hanging of Jean Lee is economically and imaginatively conceived with a strong narrative drive. In a series of short connected poems, Jordie Albiston has made a heart-breaker out of her material, ringing the verse changes, using rhyme and blank verse in short chopped lines, colloquial language, reportage, and newspaper headlines with considerable skill.’ — Dorothy Hewett, Australian Book Review, 1999.
First published in 1998, The Hanging of Jean Lee was adapted for music-theatre and performed at the Sydney Opera House by a group of singers and musicians brought together for the purpose.
Jordie Albiston has published six collections of poetry. Nervous Arcs (1995), her debut, won the Mary Gilmore Award and The Sonnet According to M (2009) won the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. Her most recent work is Fifteeners(2021). She received the Patrick White award in 2019.