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Mystery of a Hansom Cab, The (ATOM Study Guide)

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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a murder mystery set in Melbourne in 1886. As the details of the crime and search for answers unfolds, we are drawn into a world of scandals, secrets and blackmail in a city that includes opium dens and brothels, grand houses, boulevards and gardens; a city where rich men go to their clubs, and their wives and daughters shop, promenade around The Block, socialise and take tea; where wealthy individuals go to extraordinary lengths to protect their reputations. This is a place that is not so very different from the Melbourne of today. Many of the locations and landmarks will be familiar to anyone who knows Melbourne. The human story of jealousy, blackmail, self-made men, frustrated ambitions and secrecy will resonate with many viewers.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab would be an excellent film to show to students of Australian History at middle and senior secondary levels. The film provides a vivid picture of urban life in Melbourne in the second half of the nineteenth century. Victoria had become a separate colony in 1851 when it separated from New South Wales. The city of Melbourne grew rapidly as immigrants and their money flowed into the colony.

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