The trouble with Harry…

Eugenia Falleni[/caption

During my trawl through some of fascinating photographs from the criminal underworld I came across one case which is a real doozy. It was quite the scandal in its day and even now it would be considered so. Have a read of the piece below, taken from the National Library of Australia ( Oh, and be careful of your chin when your jaw drops...

When 'Harry Leon Crawford', hotel cleaner of Stanmore was arrested and charged with wife murder he was revealed to be in fact Eugeni Falleni, a woman and mother, who had been passing as a man since 1899. In 1914, as 'Harry Crawford', Falleni had married the widow Annie Birkett. Three years later, shortly after she announced to a relative that she had found out 'something amazing about Harry', Birkett disappeared. Crawford told neighbours that she had run off with a plumber.

][caption id="attachment_150" align="alignleft" width="1004"] Eugenia Falleni aka Harry Leon Crawford

In 1919 Birkett’s young son, who had remained in Crawford’s custody, told an aunt of attempts made on his life by his drunken stepfather. The aunt contacted police. A charred body which had been found in Lane Cove in 1917 was belatedly identified as Birkett’s. ‘Crawford’s’ astonished second wife, when finally convinced of Falleni’s true gender remarked, “I always wondered why he was so painfully shy …” The photograph shown here shows Falleni in male clothing, probably on the day of her arrest. The negative was found in a paper sleeve inscribed ‘Falleni Man/Woman’. It is also possible that Falleni was made to dress in a man’s suit for the photograph.

About historywithatwist

I am a journalist, author and book editor. I have published five novels - four (Tan, The Golden Grave, A Time of Traitors and Patriots' Blood) set during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, and the fifth (High Crimes), a modern thriller. I'm a history enthusiast who loves a good yarn.
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12 Responses to The trouble with Harry…

  1. Glynis Smy says:

    Fascinating! Grim looking shemale.

  2. You called it, thanks for reminding me to watch that chin. A stunning and unpredictable factoid indeed.

  3. John L. Monk says:

    If I wasn’t married…or conscious.

  4. You are a bad, bad man – and very desperate

  5. jjtoner says:

    Amazing! What happened to him/her?

    • A great case. She was jailed in 1920 and then released in 1931, changed her name to ‘Jean Ford’ and was run over by a car in 1938.

      • jjtoner says:

        Really? That’s bizarre. Must have been an Ford. You couldn’t make this up! 🙂 But then she was a drunk… Reminds me of the end of No Country for Old Men, where a car came out of nowhere…

  6. Yeah, that’s right. I wasn’t expecting that

  7. Siren Theatre Co and Seymour Centre are presenting a play based on these events. THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is showing at Seymour Centre, Sydney from 16 February – 3 March.

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