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Five Women, first published in 1965, was Tony Parker’s fourth book. Its intended subjects had emerged from Holloway prison for women on the same cold spring morning in 1963. Between them they shared 73 criminal convictions and nearly a hundred years ‘inside’.
Parker intended to interview each of the women about their lives, hopes, intentions, fears; and to arrange follow-up conversations in due course. But one disappeared immediately, and six months later two of the five were dead, two more back in prison. The scope of Parker’s project duly changed, but not its purpose – to record the experiences and thoughts of women mired in the cycle of habitual offences and custodial sentences.