Aidan Phelan - author

The online home for works written by Aidan Phelan

I am Martha Needle

The story you were never told. The woman you never knew.

Melbourne Gaol, October 22, 1894. Martha Needle is brought out of the condemned cell, supported on either side. She gently shrugs the support away. Asked for any last words she replies, “I have nothing to say. Thank you, sir.” She stands on the trapdoor and is pinioned. The noose is put around her neck and the hood pulled over her face. There’s no time to think before the lever is thrown and Martha Needle drops through the floor to eternity. We know how the story ends, but what led Martha Needle, the so-called “Richmond Poisoner” to the gallows?

  • Release date: TBC
  • ISBN: N/A
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

I am Martha Needle tells the story of one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers from her own perspective in an attempt to figure out what would drive a woman down such a horrific path of no return. The Martha Needle story has captured imaginations for over a century but very few authors have attempted to dig behind the headlines to find the woman behind the horror.

While true crimes have always fascinated Aidan Phelan, and colonial era Australia provides more than its fair share of fertile ground for an author, Martha Needle demanded that her story be told and he answered the call. As Phelan began to look at the story he discovered that there was a lot more to explore than had been written about in most accounts. Far beyond being some kind of malevolent monster, Martha soon emerged before him as a woman who was begging for understanding.

Years of physical and psychological trauma led Martha to perform the unthinkable acts that have prompted the debate about why she committed her crimes and whether or not she was of a sound mind. “Her life was defined by abuse and rejection,” Phelan explains, “Though it may be hard for many of us to understand the hardships faced by people in the Victorian era given the comparative ease of modern life, I think we can all empathise with Martha to some extent. There is something universal in her story that can tell us a lot about the human cost of allowing domestic violence and mental illness to go without intervention.”

I am Martha Needle does not yet have a release date as it is still in development, but you can find updates here on the website as news comes to hand.

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