In conversation: Rachel Franks on An Uncommon Hangman

In conversation: Rachel Franks on An Uncommon Hangman

Executioners were once a critical component of the justice system in New South Wales. In an era when judges handed down death sentences as easily as they toasted the good health of the monarch, someone had to do the dirty work of the authorities.

Robert ‘Nosey Bob’ Howard used to be a household name. Today, the noseless hangman who sparked fear and fascination everywhere he went is largely forgotten, yet Howard is vital to understanding attitudes towards capital punishment in Australia. Howard’s story 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.

Rachel Franks’ book An Uncommon Hangman: The life and deaths of Robert ‘Nosey Bob’ Howard tells this dramatic tale of life, death and radical social change through the sixty-one men and one woman who met Nosey Bob, under the worst possible circumstances, when he served as a New South Wales executioner between 1876 and 1904.

In this week’s CALC seminar, Rachel Franks will be in conversation with CALC co-chair Julieanne Lamond. Please email for zoom link details.

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 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


Date & time

Thu 01 Jun 2023, 6.30–8pm


Online, via Zoom


Rachel Franks

Event series


Juilieanne Lamond


Updated:  30 May 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications