Website of Author,  Academic, Consultant

The Secret Art of Poisoning

"Samantha Battams has written an engrossing account of the Needle case and set it moreover in the context of a time when vulnerable children - and adults - had little support dealing with abuse and mental illness, with tragic effects...enjoyable and interesting to read and it extended my knowledge not only of the Needle case itself but of social and judicial conditions in late Victorian society in Australia." David Kilner, crime-fiction author
 
My Story

Welcome to my website!

I am a writer and author, global and public health academic, evaluation consultant in the health and community services sector, and keen historian.

I love telling good stories, especially about little known characters from our past, and discovering what we may learn from them. I have written two non-fiction historical biographies. The first is 'The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, The Richmond Poisoner'. The second book written with Les Parsons is 'The Red Devil: The story of South Australian Aviation Pioneer, Captain Harry Butler, AFC' (Wakefield Press). For an author profile, click here.

I am also a Senior Research Fellow & Associate Professor (academic status) at the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity (Flinders University) and as a university lecturer and researcher in public health and global health, I have also been a passionate advocate for public health. I have a PhD in Public Health (policy) that considered housing for people with a psychiatric disability. I was previously mental health special interest group co-convenor of the Public Health Association of Australia and have served (for 5 years) on the District Court of South Australia hearing appeals against the mental health and guardianship acts. I have published numerous academic articles and book chapters in the fields of public health and global health, social policy and sociology. See Flinders University, googlescholar (under public health tab, above), researchgate.net and academia.edu for my academic publications.

 

I have undertaken review, research and evaluation consultancies in the health and community services sector since 1994 and was previously Director (Research & Evaluation) at Health Outcomes International. I am available for independent consulting work and collaborations. Please see the 'consultancies' tab for further details.

I reside beachside in Adelaide, South Australia, have a passion for travel and have been fortunate to visit 26 countries and lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland in global health for 3 years et aussi je parle en francais!

My Books

The Secret Art of Poisoning

The Red Devil

book reviews

The Secret Art of Poisoning reviews:

"Samantha Battams has written an engrossing account of the Needle case and set it moreover in the context of a time when vulnerable children - and adults - had little support dealing with abuse and mental illness, with tragic effects...enjoyable and interesting to read and it extended my knowledge not only of the Needle case itself but of social and judicial conditions in late Victorian society in Australia." David Kilner, crime-fiction author

I thoroughly recommend this book to the reader as a tour de force of history, sociology and legal frameworks which brings to life a day long past with advice and direction for our future considerations. Dr Pamela Schulz, OAM\

'Battams poignant beautifully crafted narrative is underpinned by a critical understanding of the psychological and sociological intricacies of the period. She explores the complexities of the case to make sense of an otherwise incomprehensible tragedy, simultaneously placing Martha’s personal and family predicament in the context of the communities in which they lived.' Dr Denise George, author of Mary Lee biography

"Dr Battams has ... thoroughly researched Martha's story and set it against a well-written backdrop describing the impact of social and economic conditions of the time." Frank Review, Goodreads Reader

"This was a very interesting and detailed read...The story was easy to follow and am looking forward to reading Samantha Battams next book." Lyn, Goodreads Reader

"Thoroughly enjoyable read! A great insight into the social and economic struggles of the time told through the life experiences of Martha Needle. I particularly enjoyed reading the actual transcript of the trial and the characters surrounding it." Jess, Goodreads Reader

"Overall, the ‘Secret Art of Poisoning’ is filled with rich descriptions of the life and times of Martha Needle, which immerses you in that world and succeeds in providing you with much richer and complex understanding of her story. A must read for those interested in crime and history." Jonathon, Amazon Reader

 

Goodreads reviews

IN THE PRESS
One would have thought that this inhuman monster would have stopped in her awful work of murder...So [through] the patient investigation made by Superintendent Brown, an exceptionally smart detective officer, and Superintendent Whitney, one of his assistants, the cruel and diabolic deeds of this she devil were brought to light.

The Wanganui Herald, 1894

It was called Rough on Rats, a 19th-Century rodent poison that was little more than a box of arsenic coloured with coal. Such was its reputation as a weapon of murder that chemists made their customers sign a purchase book, and each signature needed an independent witness. But Martha Needle found a way to stockpile Rough on Rats....
The Sunday Mail, 2019
For MEDIA ARTICLES AND TV, CLICK HERE
 
 
Next Event
Talk on The Red Devil: Captain Harry Butler, Pioneer Aviator
When
May 03, 2:30 PM
Where
Henley Town Hall,
Henley Beach SA 5022, Australia
 

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