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RAHS Special Event – Crime, Punishment and a Noseless Hangman in Colonial NSW

August 17 @ 13:00 - 14:00

Virtual Event Virtual Event

Robert Howard (1832–1906) used to be a household name. Today, the noseless hangman − better known as ‘Nosey Bob’ − who sparked fear and fascination everywhere he went is largely forgotten. In this presentation, Rachel Franks will detail how the longest-serving executioner for New South Wales (1876–1904), is vital to understanding changing attitudes towards capital punishment in Australia. Nosey Bob is a compelling figure in the story of Sydney. More importantly, he is a critical chapter in the history of how generally enthusiastic spectators at early executions were overtaken by campaigners for the abolition of the death penalty.

About the speaker: Rachel Franks holds PhDs in Australian crime fiction from Central Queensland University and true crime texts from the University of Sydney. A qualified educator and librarian, her extensive work on crime fiction, true crime, popular culture and information science has been presented at numerous conferences as well as on radio and television. An award-winning writer, her research can be found in a wide variety of books, journals, magazines and online resources. She is the author of An Uncommon Hangman: The Life and Deaths of Robert ‘Nosey Bob’ Howard (NewSouth, 2022).


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August 17
13:00 - 14:00


Royal Australian Historical Society
(02) 9247 8001
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