The Extraordinary Case of Sister Liguori – Maureen McKeown
A century on, the true story of escapee nun who rocked the establishment.
The Extraordinary Case of Sister Liguori by Maureen McKeown is the incredible true story of a young Irish nun who flees her convent from a relatively unknown town in Australia.
Never forgotten, and born more than a century ago as Brigid Partridge, this interesting nun was known religiously as Sister Liguori. In this amazing book, her astounding story has been fastidiously brought to life by Brigid’s grand-niece, Maureen McKeown.
Barefoot and dressed in only a nightgown, it’s a foggy winter’s night in 1920 when Sister Liguori takes flight. This is the shocking opener to an astonishing story that caused an unprecedented religious storm not seen before in Australian history.
Sister Liguori soon finds refuge in the home of local Protestants who refuse to disclose her whereabouts to the Catholic authorities. The Bishop, meanwhile, swears before a Chamber Magistrate that she is insane and a warrant is issued for her arrest. Hunted throughout Australia like an outlaw, her plight is driven by a heightening media frenzy that raises religious tension to unseen levels.
Located in the home of the Reverend William Touchell and his wife, Laura, in a Sydney suburb, she is arrested and taken to the Reception House for the Insane in Darlinghurst to be held in remand for medical observation. Appearing before the Lunacy Court, a week later, she is declared sane and released. With no apology from the Bishop for the slur cast on her character, she turns to the courts for redress. But taking on the Bishop means taking on the Roman Catholic Church. Those who helped when she fled the convent offer their support again, along with every member of the Loyal Orange Lodge of NSW, to sue the Bishop. In an age of bitter sectarian feeling and ready tempers, an unholy war rages around her as the enmity between the two sides, rooted in history and religion, reaches fever pitch. In July 1921, the pavements outside Sydney’s Supreme Court are lined with hundreds of people, mostly women, hoping to gain admission to one of the most sensational cases in the history of the Australian Law Courts.
When this intriguing and remarkable book was published in 2017, the author immortalised her Great Aunt’s life story and captured the imagination of legions of readers. In early 2019, The Extraordinary Case of Sister Liguori received further acclaim, when the film rights were famously secured, catapulting this astonishing story onto an even wider, world stage.
“To have optioned such a sought-after, powerful and timely book from a writer on my doorstep, is a great privilege. Audiences are currently demanding strong, but also intriguingly flawed female leads in their films and with Sister Liguori, it does not come more dramatic in this true-to-life David versus Goliath role. This is an extremely personal story to the endlessly impressive Maureen and her family. My goal, therefore, is to do the film adaptation justice and one day get it onto the big screen and to the audiences the book thoroughly deserves. We currently have assembled a team of producers from the UK, US and recently Australia demonstrating the interest in this great story.” – Colin McIvor, Film Director
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy a variety of genres, including: biography, religious fiction, historical novels, true-life stories, Christianity and spirituality.
The book is available to order from Amazon, Waterstones and all major book shops.
Price: £8.99 (Paperback)
Publisher: Leo Press; first published in 2017
About the Author
Maureen McKeown was born in Berkshire, England. She was educated by Sisters of Mercy at St John Bosco Primary School in Woodley, near Reading. At the age of eleven she moved to Northern Ireland with her family and was a boarder at St Joseph’s Convent Grammar School in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone. She has great admiration for the wonderful work of nuns and holds the warmest memories of their guidance. She went on to study at the Belfast College of Business Studies and began her working life in the NI Civil Service in Parliament Buildings, Stormont, as a Personal Secretary. It was a ‘troubled time’ for Northern Ireland as a campaign for Civil Rights heightened sectarianism and precipitated more than 30 years of bloodshed. Maureen’s parents moved to Downpatrick in 1973 and a short time later, she met Charlie, her husband of 37 years.
Maureen quit the Civil Service to raise five children, during which time she also helped with the administration and running of the business Charlie and herself set up nearly 40 years ago. She had little time for hobbies but when her family flew the nest, she turned to the Internet to research her ancestors. The computer screen flashed up information on her Great Aunt, Brigid Partridge, and she was fascinated with what she read. It was the beginning of her writing journey. Research took her to the convent that Brigid entered in Kildare, Ireland, at the age of 17. The warm and friendly welcome extended to her from the community of sisters gave Maureen the desire to pursue Brigid’s story further and she travelled to the convent in Wagga Wagga, Australia. Again, Maureen received a warm and friendly welcome from the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sister Alexis, the Archivist, gave freely of her time in showing her around the convent and contributing helpful material. When Maureen returned from Australia, she painstakingly sifted through a mountain of information and carefully crafted the remarkable true story of her Great Aunt. The Extraordinary Case of Sister Liguori would help her through her darkest hours after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease/ALS in 2015.