The Adventures of a Victorian Con Woman – The Life and Crimes of Mrs Gordon Baillie written by Mick Davis & David Lassman and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 368
Mrs. Gordon Baillie, known throughout her life as Annie, was born in the direst poverty in the small Scottish fishing town of Peterhead in 1848. Illegitimate and illiterate her beauty and intelligence nevertheless enabled her to overcome her circumstances and become a charming and wealthy socialite living a life of luxury whilst raising money for worthy causes and charitable works.
She became mistress to a rich aristocrat, married a world-renowned male opera singer and later took as a lover a vicar’s son with anarchist tendencies. For most of her ‘career’ she kept one step ahead of the law and her nemesis, Inspector Henry Marshall of Scotland Yard, but finally becoming undone through her own compulsion for petty theft, despite her amassed fortune.
During her life she used more than 40 aliases, produced four children and spent her way through millions of ill-gotten pounds, dollars and other currencies. But at the turn of the twentieth century, her notoriety was such that she took refuge in America and disappeared from history.
From humble beginnings or at least not the best start in life Annie certainly tried her best in life to achieve the best she could, although you could also say most lawful or right way. Mrs Gordon Baille came from the far reaches of Scotland to you could say, quite far up in high society. Annie got her way through life using her wit, charm and good looks, it should be said that she doesn’t have the ending in life you might expect but I’m not going to spoil it if you haven’t read the book. I would say that anyone reading this is going to come out of it, admiring Mrs Gordon Baillie as she comes across as wily, tenacious and quite intelligent. I’m only surprised that I have never heard about her before at all, I would have thought a book or old tv series would have seen her come to more public light. This was a well-written book that would have needed a lot of research which comes across in the writing. A really good read and very enjoyable book, I would certainly recommend this book to others.