Mary Mawdsley lived on the margins of society. A violent drunk, a thief and a prostitute, by the age of 30 in 1861 she had appeared at the Preston petty sessions on no fewer than 37 separate occasions for a string of public order offences. It was at this time that her regular courtroom appearances, sometimes more than once in a single week, began to capture the attention of the local press. ‘AN OLD OFFENDER’, headlined the Preston Chronicle newspaper in its first report on Mawdsley in February 1859. The report detailed her arrest for drunkenness and disorderly conduct just two days after being released from prison, and on this occasion the magistrates sent her back to prison for a month. Subsequent headlines included ‘DRUNK AGAIN’, ‘A DARK HISTORY’ and ‘AN INCOURIGIBLE’.