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Bee Miles was a truly larger-than-life character. Famousfor being outrageous in public, or, as she said, living’ recklessly’, she shocked and intrigued cities and townsacross Australia. But she was no ordinary wanderer.
Born into a wealthy family, Bee moved in Sydney’s literary and artistic circles in the 1920s and 1930s before she took up residence on the streets. A consummate performer and a perceptive critic, she caught the public’s imagination with her spectacular acts of defiance, emerging majestically from the surf with a knife strapped to each thigh, stopping a country train in its tracks, hitchhiking across remote Australia and drawing large city crowds with her Shakespeare recitations. She was once even voted more famous than the Prime Minister. She was also repeatedly incarcerated in prisons, confined to mental hospitals and treated brutally by a succession of authority figures, starting with her father.
Bee constantly defied conventional expectations of female behaviour. The public found her captivating and fragments of her story have been told again and again in many forms. Until now, no-one has uncovered the real story behind the colourful legend. This first full biography offers a fascinating glimpse into a dark side of Australia’s history.